As the AIADMK power struggle shows no signs of easing, caretaker Chief Minister O Panneerselvam received a shot in the arm after party spokesperson C Ponnaiyan and later, Tirupur MP V Sathyabama also joined the OPS camp on Saturday. As of now, a total of four MPs, out of 50, are with O Panneerselvam. The development comes hours after Tamil Nadu Education Minister K Pandiarajan extended his support to Panneerselvam. Earlier in the day, two party MPs Ashok Kumar and PR Sundaram had also offered their support to Panneerselvam, giving a setback to VK Sasikala, who is trying to stake claim to form the government.
Addressing media after joining the OPS faction, Ponnaiyan said Panneerselvam is the only person who can lead the party and not Sasikala. He added that Panneerselvam has been associated with the party for many years and assumed duty of Chief Minister thrice as interim chief.
Meanwhile, Sasikala met her MLAs at the Golden Bay resort in Kuvathur where they have been allegedly corralled into, in order to prevent any horse trading ahead of a probable floor test to prove majority. On the other hand, Raj Bhavan delayed its decision, plunging the state into uncertainty and prompting speculation around the possibility of Central rule. On Friday, Governor C Vidyasagar Rao was said to be still weighing his options and his office said “he has not sent any report either to the Ministry of Home Affairs or to the President of India” as was being reported by some in the media.
Sasikala is facing a rebellion led by O Panneerselvam who claims to have been forced out of office. In a House of 234 (minus the seat that has fallen vacant after the death of Jayalalithaa), the current strength of the AIADMK is 135. The Sasikala camp claims the support of 120 MLAs.