Rebel AIADMK leader and former Chief Minister O Panneerselvam has said that he was raised to the CM seat only in order to sidestep problems the party expected to face after the demise of late CM Jayalalithaa. If anybody else had become the Chief Minister, he added, people would have questioned the party.
During an interview to Puthiya Thalamurai a day after Jayalalithaa’s birth anniversary, O Panneerselvam said, “They made me Chief Minister because they knew problems would not arise. I initially said no because I knew this family will trouble me. If somebody else had become Chief Minister, the party would have been questioned over why the leader who has been selected by Amma twice has been overlooked for the post.”
He also reiterated the demand for an inquiry by a central agency into Jayalalithaa’s death. “We were not given any information about Jayalalithaa’s treatment after she was admitted in the hospital. This has clearly raised suspicion among the people of Tamil Nadu. For 75 days, the health condition of a state leader was kept under wraps and people will naturally have questions. The Centre should initiate a probe into the matter and clear suspicions. We have always had doubts, but Sasikala was with her all the time,” he said.
VK Sasikala had earlier alleged that the DMK was behind Panneerselvam’s rebellion against the party. She had alleged that the smiles Panneerselvam and Stalin exchanged in the Assembly were proof of a conspiracy between them. Panneerselvam, however, said that when he became the Chief Minister, many people from different political parties had spoken in praise of him, but the incident was played up to manufacture an issue against him.
However, the former Chief Minister evaded questions on whether he felt the BJP will exploit the cracks within the AIADMK.
He did, however, assert that he is ready to work with Jayalalithaa’s niece Deepa Jayakumar. “I have a lot of respect for Deepa. I wish her the best for her party. She should listen to the people. I am ready to work with her,” said Panneerselvam.
He added that what they shared in common was a desire to continue Jayalalithaa's mode of rule in Tamil Nadu. “The party and government should be conducted according to what Amma wanted,” he said.
Panneerselvam also stated his support for an exemption for Tamil Nadu students from the NEET exam, saying that students from rural backgrounds will be affected. “Students have studied state syllabus and got good marks. NEET questions is from central textbooks. How will they answer it? ,” he asked.