The deputy CM did not go into too many details of when the conversation took place.
Theni/Chennai: Tamil Nadu deputy chief minister O. Panneerse-lvam has said he merged his faction with that of chief minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami last year only on the advice of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The merger took place in August 2017.
“I have only stated one per cent now; there is still 99 per cent to reveal. I shall do that when time comes,” OPS said while addressing a meeting of the AIADMK office-bearers at Theni late Friday.
Claiming that the merger issue came up during a courtesy meeting he had with Modi in New Delhi last year, OPS said, “He (Modi) said you (OPS) could join (merge the faction) to save the party”. The deputy CM did not go into too many details of when the conversation took place.
This OPS confession on the merger background predictably caused a mini political storm with the opposition DMK leader M. K. Stalin quickly reacting with a ‘Didn’t I say this earlier?’ comment. The Opposition parties have been attacking the EPS government as a ‘benami’ of the Modi government at the Centre while the AIADMK leaders hit back saying the good equation with Delhi was only aimed at garnering support for the state’s development.
OPS, who had become the CM after Jayalalithaa’s death in December 2016, said he told the prime minister he did not want any Cabinet position and can settle for a party post. But the PM wanted him to join the ministry headed by Palaniswami, he said.
He said he later conveyed the same to two ministers in the EPS camp prior to the merger and they too insisted he should accept a minister’s post. “And that’s why I am a minister today. I have no desire to be a minister. Amma (Jayalalithaa) made me MLA four times and chief minister twice. That honour itself is enough for me,” he told the party gathering at Theni.
Mr Panneerselvam, who revolted against Sasikala last year after allegedly being forced to make way for her to become CM—she could not make it due to the Supreme Court conviction in the disproportionate assets case—charged that her family had even tried to get him defeated in the 2016 polls. Even thereafter, he was tormented by Sasikala, OPS alleged, adding, “If anyone else had faced this amount of torture and problems, they would have committed suicide or would have left the party. (But) I tolerated everything for Amma”.