OPS camp 'sacks' Sasikala, her two nephews from AIADMK
Chennai, February 17, 2017
A day after senior AIADMK leader Edappadi K. Palaniswamy was sworn in as the new Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, the in-fighting within the ruling party continued with the "rebel" camp led by his predecessor O. Panneerselvam expelling party General Secretary V. K. Sasikala and her two nephews from the primary membership of the party.
Mr. Palaniswami is due to seek a vote of confidence in the legislative assembly tomorrow, though Governor C. Vidyasagar Rao had, while appointing him, given him two weeks to prove his majority.
The Panneerselvam camp, which claims to be the "real" AIADMK, though it failed to get on to its side the required number of MLAs to enable the former Chief Minister to continue in office, said it was sacking the three, including Ms. Sasikala, the newly-appointed Deputy General Secretary T. T. V. Dinakaran and S. Venkatesh, for alleged violation of party principles and discipline.
Mr. E. Madhusudanan, who was removed last week from the post of chairman of the AIADMK Presidium by the Sasikala camp and expelled from the party for backing Mr. Panneerselvam, said Ms. Sasikala had gone back on her promise to late Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa that she would not aspire for any post in the party or government.
Ms. Sasikala, a long-time aide of Ms. Jayalalithaa had been expelled from the AIADMK by the party supremo in December 2011 along with some others, including her husband Natarajan, Dinakaran and Venkatesh. Ms. Sasikala had been readmitted to the party and to Ms. Jayalalithaa's Poes Garden residence after she tendered a letter of apology and promised to not seek any position in the party or in government.
''Since she had went back on her promise and following her involvement in several criminal cases, Sasikala was expelled from the primary membership of the AIADMK for acting in a manner that brought disrepute to the party," Ms. Madhusudanan said.
In a separate statement, he said the re-induction of Dinakaran and Ventatesh and the former's appointment to the newly-created post of Deputy General Secretary was also cancelled. He said the two had been expelled by the late Ms. Jayalalithaa for betraying her faith six years ago and their re-induction by Ms. Sasikala, without any authority, on the ground that they had apologised for their past actions, was not acceptable.
Mr. Panneerselvam, known popularly as OPS, had been sworn in as the Chief Minister of the state in the early hours of December 6, shortly after Ms. Jayalalithaa had passed away here late on the previous night.
The crisis in the party began on February 5, when Ms. Sasikala was chosen by AIADMK MLAs as the new leader of its legislature party and, therefore, Mr. Panneerselvam's successor. OPS resigned the same day, and Governor C. Vidyasagar Rao accepted his resignation on February 6, but asked him to continue in office until alternative arrangements were made.
Ms. Sasikala staked claim to forming the next government in the state, but Mr. Rao did not respond to it for various reasons, including the fact that the Supreme Court was due to deliver its verdict on a corruption case against her in a few days.
OPS raised the banner of revolt against Ms. Sasikala on February 7 and alleged that he was forced to resign and stated that he was willing to continue as Chief Minister if the party and the people so desired.
The next week saw both sides engaged in a bitter power tussle, trying to garner support from the party's MLAs. The OPS camp attracted the support of 11 MPs and several AIADMK veterans, including a State Minister, but could manage to get backing from only 10 MLAs. Ms. Sasikala said she enjoyed the support of more than 120 MLAs, all of whom stayed at a resort near the city for the next several days.
As it turned out, the apex court convicted Ms. Sasikala in the 20-year-old case, which basically involved Mr. Jayalalithaa, and restored the order of a trial court in Bengaluru sentencing her to four years in prison. That ended her Chief Ministerial ambitions and she had to travel to Bengaluru to surrender before the trial court there to serve out the remainder of her prison term.
Hours before leaving for Bengaluru, she inducted her nephews into the party and made Dinakaran her deputy, in a clear bid to ensure that her family retained control over the organisation.
She also expelled OPS and 19 others, including senior leaders like Mr. C. Ponnaian, for supporting him. Mr. Madhusudanan had also been expelled a few days earlier, but he insisted she had no right to sack anyone as her own election as General Secretary was done in an illegal manner.