Tamil Nadu’s Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam has indicated that though Chief Minister Edappadi Palanisami has categorically ruled out return of VK Sasikala to the party, he feels it can be considered.
“She spent four years in prison. She was with and served Amma (Jayalalithaa) for 32 years. Just on humane consideration, I think if she accepts the present set-up of the party under a chief coordinator and his deputy, we could consider her return,” he has said.
That is a 180 degree turn by Panneerselvam, who, in February 2017, had resigned as the Chief Minister and sat on a “dharmayuddham (battle for righteousness)” at Jayalalithaa’s memorial, apparently protesting the leadership style of Sasikala.
“The party does not function for an individual or a family,” Panneerselvam said while admitting that his boss had categorically ruled out her return to the party.
Panneerselvam, who heads the party while Palaniswami heads the government, said this in an interview to a local Tamil channel. He also said he had no anger or regret or disappointment in Ms Sasikala.
“Even at that time when I sat on a protest at Amma’s memorial, I did not say I doubted her,” he claimed.
The Deputy CM said he respected both Sasikala and her nephew TTV Dhinakaran, who incidentally recommended him to Jayalalithaa over 20 years ago and played a part in his rise. Panneerselvam had replaced Dhinakaran as the treasurer of the AIADMK in 2007.
Sasikala, who recently returned after serving a 4-year jail term following her conviction in the disproportionate assets case in which te late chief minister Jayalalithaa was the prime accused, has announced that she will stay away from politics.