Former All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) leader VK Sasikala has said she would have accorded O Panneerselvam all the power and retained him as the chief minister of Tamil Nadu had he not initiated a rebellion that split the party in multiple factions and rendered late J Jayalalithaa’s party rudderless for over four years now.
Sasikala was speaking to a party loyalist from Theni district, the home turf of Panneerselvam, as she vowed to return to the thick of things and “set things right” in the AIADMK. The audio was put out by sources close to the decades-long close aide of Jayalalithaa.
Sasikala, who was released from jail weeks ahead of the Assembly election in the state, has embarked on an audio release spree to take on the current leadership of the AIADMK that suffered a humiliating defeat in the hands of the MK Stalin-led DMK. She has been speaking to party workers across districts, recoding the conversations and putting them out to the press, a move that has forced the current leadership combine of Panneerselvam and E Palaniswami to expel those who are heard talking to her.
In the audio released on Tuesday afternoon, Sasikala seemed to adopt a conciliatory tone towards Panneerselvam. “I would have sat him down (in the seat of power) if he hadn’t done what he did…”
Sasikala also said several issues during the conversation that have cropped up within the party, such as caste-based preferences, self-centred attitude of the leadership and disregard for cadre unity at a time when the party was in the opposition in the state.