Did Panneerselvam’s ill-fated tweet just confirm that his revolt against Sasikala had BJP’s blessing?


A tweet by O Panneerselvam, leader of the Puratchi Thalaivi (Amma) faction of AIADMK, on a possible alliance with BJP after the declaration of civic polls kicked up a storm today.

“We will take a decision on alliance with BJP once local body elections are announced,” the tweet from Panneerselvam’s twitter handle @OfficeOfOPS said.

The tweet, however, was later removed with the faction clarifying that it will decide on the tie-up with ‘any party’ only after the local body poll dates were declared.

The development came a day after Panneerselvam called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi to discuss the issues concerning Tamil Nadu.

In an apparent damage control move, the media team of the faction clarified that the alliance could be with any party depending upon the situation.

“We mean that only after the announcement of local body elections we will think about the alliance with any political party,” another tweet from the @OfficeOfOPS handle said in a clarification.

Former chief minister Panneerselvam had revolted against AIADMK chief V K Sasikala in February this year, alleging he was forced to make way for her to the state’s top post.

Later, he led a host of MPs, MLAs and senior leaders to form a faction of his own.

He had also fielded E Madusudanan for the now cancelled April 12 RK Nagar bypoll against AIADMK (Amma) Deputy General Secretary T T V Dhinakaran. BJP had nominated Gangai Amaren for the election.

The Election Commission had cancelled the bypoll over the use of money power to influence voters.

The proposed merger talks between the two factions led by Panneerselvam and chief minister K Palaniswami, has remained a non-starter owing to the former’s insistence on expulsion of Sasikala, Dhinakaran and their family members from AIADMK.

In February, Panneerselvam had caused a political storm by openly revolting against VK Sasikala, against her appointment as both the party’s general secretary and the chief minister.

Many in political quarter had alleged that Pannerselvam’s abrupt behaviour had the blessing of the BJP, which allegedly was against Sasikala taking over as the Tamil Nadu’s chief minister.

BJP general secretary P Muralidhar Rao had told The Indian Express: “When people without any credibility want to become leader, what’s wrong in BJP wanting to be a player in Tamil Nadu? There is political instability (in the state), and it’s natural that the BJP, as a party, wants to play a role.”

Sasikala was later convicted by the Supreme Court in disproportionate assets case and was, therefore, prevented from becoming the chief minister. However, soon after her conviction, known Sasikala loyalist, Edappadi K Palaniswami, was appointed as the new chief minister.

Within hours of J Jayalalithaa’s death on 5 December, Panneerselvam, was sworn-in as Chief Minister.

Panneerselvam later stepped down, paving the way for Sasikala, who was already chosen AIADMK general secretary, to be elected its legislature party leader on February five.

However, the usually reticent Man Friday of Jayalalithaa rose in rebellion against Sasikala two days later, claiming he was coerced into resigning. He even expressed willingness to become Chief Minister again if the people of Tamil Nadu and AIADMK workers so desired.

His belligerence plunged the state into a political crisis.

Amid the face off with Panneerselvam, Sasikala had met Governor K Vidyasagar Rao on 9 February and staked claim to form the government.

Notwithstanding criticism from several quarters, Rao, a BJP man and a former cabinet minister in Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s cabinet, preferred to wait and watch as the political tug-of-war played out between the rival AIADMK factions.

Analysts say that the BJP, which has been unsuccessful in making inroads in Tamil Nadu, may have found a great ally in Panneerselvam to push its case in the southern state.

In the 2015 assembly elections, most BJP candidates had lost their deposits. Of the 50 lakh members the party had claimed to register through missed call initiative in 2014, the saffron party candidates could only poll 12 lakh votes among themselves during the assembly polls.


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