In his first public comments on Jayalalithaa’s hospitalisation, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam on Wednesday said he could not meet her even once during her 75 days of hospitalisation. He also said that no political leader could meet her in the Apollo Hospitals where she died on December 5. “For 75 days I went to the hospital. But I could not meet her even once. Even my family members used to ask me every day whether I met Amma. At one stage, I even thought of lying that I had met her. But I did not do so,” Panneerselvam told a Tamil TV channel.
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Panneer, who was allocated the portfolios held by Jayalalithaa during her hospitalisation, said he explained to his family that visitors were not allowed since she was in the intensive care unit and there was a possibility of infection. “We were informed that Amma was recovering. We were confident. When we came to know that Amma has passed away, we felt we have lost all our powers,” he said.
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Replying to a question whether anyone other than Sasikala met Jayalalithaa, he said: “I do not have information about any political leader meeting her. Only the Governor went inside twice. I neither saw nor heard of any other leader meeting her.” His comments assume significance as a host of leaders including BJP President Amit Shah, Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi and Chief Ministers of neighbouring states had visited the Apollo Hospitals during Jayalalithaa’s hospitalisation.
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On whether Jayalalithaa wanted to meet him since he was a loyalist or he took any effort to visit her, the senior AIADMK leader said he tried several times. “But thought may be I was unfortunate and a sinner not to have seen her in the hospital.” To a question on recent resignation of some key state officials in the Chief Minister’s office, he said there was no compulsion from him and it was a decision taken by them on their own.