Tamil Nadu’s caretaker Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, who raised the banner of revolt in the AIADMK in Chennai on Tuesday night, was given enough indications by leaders of the BJP to stand up and be counted after the death of J Jayalalithaa, top sources in the national party have told The Indian Express. After Jayalalithaa’s death on December 5, sources said, her former aide V K Sasikala’s hurry to push for transfer of power provoked Panneerselvam to take this step.
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OPS, as he is known in Chennai, “took his own time to assert himself,” aware of the “goodwill” that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his party leaders have for him, party sources said.
Governor C Vidyasagar Rao’s decision to make himself unavailable Monday is being seen as a calculated move to give some time to the anti-Sasikala faction in the AIADMK to gather strength and plan the next step towards a Constitutional challenge to Sasikala.
Sasikala’s husband M Natarajan camped in New Delhi last month and met many Congress leaders and senior lawyers including Kapil Sibal. This set off hectic discussions within the BJP over its stand vis-a-vis the Chennai power struggle.
The BJP’s stand has been that Sasikala should take charge only after the Supreme Court delivers its verdict in the case against late Jayalalithaa and Sasikala.
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The party is also aware of the AIADMK’s strength in Parliament — 37 in Lok Sabha and 13 in Rajya Sabha — is crucial to the passage of key legislation and could be a force multiplier.
Sources said that Sasikala is aware that both Modi and party president Amit Shah have extended “tacit support” to OPS.