Tamilnadu Deputy Chief Minister and co-ordinator of the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) O. Panneerselvam may appear to be lying low in recent months. But, his official residence on Greenways Road in Chennai continues to draw party members and senior party colleagues. On Thursday morning, he spoke to media on a range of questions that have been on the minds of the people of the State. He stressed many times over that the AIADMK would not, and should not, be allowed to be dominated by “any single family.” He also indicated that an alliance with like-minded parties was possible for the Lok Sabha polls.
There is a perception that it was because of the support provided by V.K.Sasikala’s family that you were catapulted to the position of Chief Minister in September 2001, even though the party had many senior leaders.
I have replied this question in the past too. A few months after Amma [Jayalalithaa] became Chief Minister in March 2002 and I was made Minister with nine portfolios, she made it clear to me that it was she and not anybody else who had made me the Chief Minister in 2001. On the day Amma was found guilty by a Bengaluru court in September 2014, she called me inside the court room. This was during a break and the judge [John Michael] Cunha had not yet pronounced the quantum of punishment.
Amma told me to become the Chief Minister again. Since she felt that it would not carry weight among the party MLAs if I had to convey her message to them, she sent for [the then Electricity Minister Natham R. Viswanathan [who waited outside the court]. Amma asked him to convene a meeting of the party legislators and tell them that it was on her direction that I was being made the Chief Minister. Such was the level of clarity of thought of Amma even in her moment of personal crisis. This also shows the confidence she had reposed in me.