Tamil Nadu deputy Chief Minister O Pannerselvam on Friday confirmed that he did meet Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam leader T T V Dinakaran July last year, but asserted that the purpose was not to make him Chief Minister, but to save the Edappadi Government from the Sasikala clan.
Talking to reporters at his residence, Pannerselvam said he agreed to meet Dinakaran at the behest of a common friend after feelers were sent that the rebel leader was ready to mend his ways. However, “I found that he was bent on toppling this government becoming Chief Minister and so I refused to be a party to this”.
Dinakaran told reporters earlier in the day that he agreed to meet Pannerselvam because “I was told that he regretted having revolted against Sasikala and he offered to upstage Edappadi Palanisamy and make me Chief Minister”.
He said he spurned the overtures because “it will be suicidal for us” to go with a discredited AIADMK.
Pannerselvam said he had served three times as Chief Minister, twice during AIDMK leader J Jayalalitha’s life time and the third time after her death in December 2016.
Pannerselvam revolted after Sasikala got herself elected as general secretary of the AIADMK and forced him to resign so she could grab power.
Her plans came to naught following her conviction in the assets case which not only landed her in jail for four years, but also disqualified her from any public post six years after serving the term. Before going to jail, she got Edappadi Palanisamy installed as Chief Minister with the support of 124 MLAs .
When Dinakaran, whom she named deputy general secretary in April 2017, got elected from the R K Nagar constituency later that year, he expected Edappadi to step down. Edappadi frustrated his design by merging his group with the OPS faction on the advice of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The two factions came together in August that year and it was formally ratified by the general council in September. It led to the reunited AIADMK reclaiming the name and the symbol, forcing Dinakran to float another outfit, the Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam.
Pannerselvma did not explain why he kept his meeting with Dinakaran under the wrap .Nor did he or Dinakaran disclose who was the common friend who arranged the meeting.
Pannerselvam however said that the friend met him Friday after Dinakaran went public. He said the friend was shocked that “ Dinakaran had stooped to such a low level”.
Pannerselvam and other Ministers maintained that Dinakaran was trying to sow seeds of discord in the AIADMK ahead of the by-elections to the Assembly from Tiruparangundam and Tiruvarur.