Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami announced a one-man inquiry commission to probe the death of late Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Thursday. The committee will be headed by a retired judge, said the Chief Minister.
The announcement comes as speculation mounts over a merger between the warring factions of the AIADMK – one led by former CM turned rebel O Panneerselvam and the other by EPS.
"There have been several reports and questions from various groups following Amma's death. So, we have decided that an Inquiry commission headed by a retired judge will look into the matter," said the Chief Minister.
Following his rebellion against AIADMK (Amma) General Secretary VK Sasikala in February, OPS had demanded a CBI probe into Jayalalithaa’s death.
Jayalalithaa was admitted to Apollo Hospital in Chennai on September 22, 2016 for fever and dehydration. She was in the hospital till she passed away on December 5, 2016. Her hospitalisation was shrouded in secrecy, with few medical bulletins issued to the public on the state of Jayalalithaa’s health.
In March, the Tamil Nadu government had released the health records of the late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister. The government had combined reports from two hospitals - Apollo and AIIMS. The report stated that her health kept deteriorating.
Several political parties have also demanded a detailed probe into the treatment given to Jayalalithaa and the circumstances that led to her hospitalisation.
Speaking to reporters at the Secretariat in Chennai, EPS also went on to announce that Jayalalithaa’s Poes Garden residence in Chennai will be converted into a memorial.
"In order to showcase Amma's achievements and sacrifices, her Poes Garden residence - Veda Nilayam will be converted into a memorial for the public to visit," said the Chief Minister.
Ever since Jayalalithaa's death in December, many have made demands to convert her residence 'Veda Nilayam' into a memorial. When O Panneerselvam rebelled against VK Sasikala, one of the first demands he made was the conversion of Veda Nilayam into a memorial. However, the house that belonged to Jayalalithaa and her mother Sandhya has got many claimants. While a few of Sasikala family and staff continue to live there, Jayalalithaa's niece Deepa Jayakumar and nephew Deepak Jayakumar have said many times in the past that the house was their inheritance.
With these announcements, Edappadi Palanisamy had agreed to two major demands put forward by OPS. However, it remains to be seen if OPS would agree for a merger without EPS disowning Sasikala, which remains the former’s key demand.
Following the announcement, Mafoi Pandiarajan, a senior leader in the OPS faction tweeted welcoming the EPS government's move.
Thursday's announcements also comes a week after senior leaders of the ruling AIADMK (Amma) faction adopted a resolution calling TTV Dhinakaran's appointment as Deputy General Secretary as illegal.The resolution, signed by 27 office-bearers of the AIADMK (Amma) including Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami on August 10, also pronounced the party appointments made by Dhinakaran as null and void. Dhinakaran, however, refused to accept the resolution and had said only his aunt, Sasikala had the powers to strip him of his post. He further declared that a probe into Jayalalithaa's death was welcome as they had nothing to hide.
With OPS and EPS meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi on several occasions, including last week following the Vice President swearing-in ceremony, speculation is rife that the BJP is brokering negotations between the warring factions. Following his meeting with PM Modi on Monday, OPS had told the media that they had discussed several issues affecting the state. “I came to convey the wish of our party cadre to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and apprise him of the political situation in Tamil Nadu,” Panneerselvam said.