What she believed would be a bloodless coup on Sunday, February 5, has turned into a pitched battle for Sasikala, a mere six days later. On Saturday, Sasikala faced several losses in her run for Chief Ministership of Tamil Nadu.
Minister Mafoi Pandiarajan, who was firmly in her camp until Friday night, decided to defect to OPS’s side. Senior party leader Ponnaiyan also joined OPS by evening. Namakkal MP PR Sundaram and Krishnagiri MP Ashok Kumar also gave their support.
And the defections did not go down too well with Sasikala.
Since Tuesday, when OPS broke his silence outside Jayalalithaa’s memorial and claimed that he was forced to resign by Sasikala, Tamil Nadu has seen several press appearances from leaders on both sides. But while OPS has been speaking to media and supporters several times in a day, Sasikala has been more reserved, her MLAs and Ministers doing the speaking on her behalf.
On Saturday though, a clearly angry Sasikala addressed her supporters at Poes Garden, saying, “We have been patient so far in the interest of Democracy, but we only have so much patience. After a point, we will do what is required.”
This ‘warning’ from Sasikala came about an hour after she wrote to Governor Vidyasagar Rao once again, saying, “As it has been seven long days since the Chief Minister Thiru O Panneerselvam submitted and your Excellency accepted his resignation, taking the urgency of the situation at hand, I would like to seek an appointment from Your Excellency by today along with all MLAs who extended their support to me regarding future course of action to form the Government.”
But despite the grandstanding, Sasikala was not in denial about the disappointment in her party.
And in an attempt to keep her flock together, Sasikala left Chennai at 2.30pm. By 3.50pm, she had reached the Golden Bay resort where an unknown number of MLAs have been cooped up since Wednesday.
The media was stopped one kilometre from the resort’s gates, and no one was privy to what Sasikala said at the meeting. Visuals from the meeting were beamed by JayaTV without any audio, and they showed an audience of about 100 people.
But while the meeting lasted only an hour, Sasikala did not leave Koovathur until 7pm. Sources say, she met with MLAs individually after the big meeting, and spoke to each of them to ensure their support for her CM bid.
When she reached Chennai, Sasikala spoke to media persons briefly, only to say that she will approach the issue differently on Sunday. When asked about whether she was considering legal action, Sasikala said, "Wait and watch."