Hours after joining O Panneerselvam’s camp, Tamil Nadu education minister K Pandiarajan on Saturday expressed confidence in getting the support of at least 135 MLAs in favour of the camp led by the caretaker Chief Minister. “Our number will be more than what it is today and it will land at 135,” Pandiarajan was quoted as saying to news agency ANI. “Drama is coming to a close soon. I’m at least in touch with 20 of them (MLAs) so I don’t think phones are switched off,” he added, referring to the MLAs staying at a resort in Koovathur, where they have been allegedly corralled into, in order to prevent any horse trading ahead of a probable floor test to prove majority.
As the power struggle within the AIADMK shows no sign of abating, Panneerselvam received a shot in the arm after Pandiarajan joined his dissident camp, becoming the first sitting minister to do so. The development comes hours after two party MPs Ashok Kumar and PR Sundaram also offered their support to Panneerselvam, giving a setback to Sasikala, who is trying to stake claim to form the government.
“My belief is that here is the man who has captured the hearts of the masses. Amma’s legacy will continue to rest on his able shoulders and that is the reason I am here,” Pandiarajan had said after joining the OPS camp. “We are here as followers of Puratchi Thalaivi Amma,” he said, adding that the “spirit of the masses” would carry the party through.
Meanwhile, veteran leader and party spokesperson Ponnaiyan joined the OPS camp, giving a major boost to Panneerselvam. On the other hand, 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.
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.