O Panneerselvam vs Sasikala: These are leaders backing caretaker chief minister against AIADMK gen secy

After caretaker chief minister, O Panneerselvam, dramatically rebelled against AIADMK supremo VK Sasikala last Tuesday, alleging that he was coerced into resigning as the chief minister, the AIADMK has fallen into a crisis. The saga has taken an interesting turn, with the party effectively splitting into two factions: one which supports Panneerselvam and the other which has remained loyal to Sasikala.

The battle to occupy the chief minister's position intensified to such an extent that the Sasikala camp MLAs were whisked away to a resort to keep them from possibly being poached by the Panneerselvam camp.

While reports suggest that while only six MLAs and ten MPs are with the former finance minister, many popular actors and celebrities have openly come out in his support. As days are passing by, it is expected that more and more AIADMK legislators and parliamentarians will jump the ship and join Panneerselvam. The fact that he has administrative experience and had held the position of the chief minister twice before goes in favour of Panneerselvam. On the other hand, Sasikala's credibility has been doubtful, with several corruption cases like the disproportionate assets case against her.

CM O Panneerselvam. PTI

File image of O Panneerselvam. PTI

Here is a list of top AIADMK leaders who have thrown their weight behind the caretaker chief minister.

1) V Maitreyan

Maitreyan was the first leader to official cross over to the Panneerselvam camp after he met the Jayalalithaa loyalist at his residence on Wednesday. He has also got an audience with Tamil Nadu Governor C Vidyasagar Rao.

2) E Madhusudanan

The chairman of the AIADMK presidium, he was the biggest catch for the Panneerselvam camp. It is to be noted that during his press conference where he announced his rebellion, Panneerselvam had mentioned that Jayalalithaa wanted Madhusudanan to succeed her as the general secretary.

3) KP Munusamy

Even before Panneerselvam rebelled against Sasikala, the former minister had opposed the elevation of the former Jayalalithaa aide to the position of the chief minister.

4) PH Pandian

The former speaker — he interestingly held the position in 1988 when the Jayalalithaa versus Janaki split took place — attacked the Sasikala and her family and cast aspersions on her ability to take over as the chief minister. Pandian also raised suspicion on the circumstances leading to former chief minister Jayalalithaa's death.

5) K Pandiarajan

Pandiarajan's case has been curious. Initially siding with the Sasikala, the education minister made a volte face soon and jumped ship to join the Panneerselvam camp. According to media reports, he would be roping in MLAs like R Nataraj, the former Tamil Nadu top cop and Thamimun Ansari.

6) Natham T Viswanathan

The Times of India says that Viswanathan had been a member of  Jayalalithaa's 'Aivar Ani' (five-man team). He is expected to seek support from MLAs from the south of Tamil Nadu.

7) C Ponnaiyan

The former law minister, he is epected to help the Panneerselvam camp with his expertise on law matters.

However, the Sasikala camp claims to enjoy the support of at least 129 MLAs. Top leaders like fisheries minister D Jayakumar, MLA R Balaji, Tamil Nadu Assembly Speaker P Dhanapal and Lok Sabh Deputy Speaker Thambidurai are firmly in the Sasikala camp.

Until, over 12 MLAs switch sides, Panneerselvam cannot stop Sasikala from being made the chief minister.

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Updated Date: Feb 13, 2017 14:25:12 IST

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