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More AIADMK leaders switch camps, back Panneerselvam
 
CHENNAI, Feb,11,2017:One Minister, 4 MPs come out in support of T.N. Chief Minister In a dramatic turn to the ongoing political turmoil in Tamil Nadu, two prominent members from AIADMK interim general secretary V.K. Sasikala’s camp — Education Minister K. Pandiarajan and party spokesperson C. Ponnaiyan — switched sides on Saturday to join Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam, citing a groundswell of support for the latter.

In a further boost to the rebel camp, four MPs — P.R. Sundaram from Namakkal, K. Ashok Kumar from Krishnagiri, R. Vanaroja from Tiruvannamalai and V. Sathyabhama from Tiruppur — also came out in support of Mr. Panneerselvam.

While the Namakkal and Krishnagiri MPs were the first to turn up at the CM’s Greenways Road residence here, Mr. Pandiarajan’s arrival was a shot in the arm for Mr. Panneerselvam.

Not very long after posting a cryptic tweet that he would listen to the ‘collective voice of the people’, Mr. Pandiarajan said he was backing Mr. Panneerselvam because he did not want the AIADMK to split. “Over the last few days, there has been a clear groundswell of support for Mr. Panneerselvam. One could also detect a kind of revulsion against the choice of Sasikala as the legislature party leader,” he said.

“He has earned the goodwill of the people through his work during Cyclone Vardah and the oil spill. I realised it will be possible to meet the people during elections and seek votes only when the party is headed by OPS,” said Mr. Pandiarajan. Earlier, he had defended the decision of the party to elect Ms. Sasikala as the head of AIADMK’s legislative party.

The Minister added that he was confident that Mr. Panneerselvam would be elected as the Chief Minister once again, by the members of the legislative Assembly. “More MLAs will come [here] and OPS will be elected,” he said.

Later in the evening, Mr Ponnaiyan also met the Chief Minister along with his supporters. The senior AIADMK leader, who had also earlier backed Ms. Sasikala, challenged her nomination as the party’s general secretary.

“According to AIADMK rules, only party cadre can select the general secretary. MLAs are the people's representatives and they must take feedback from their constituents,” Mr Ponnaiyan said, adding that only Mr. Panneerselvam had the capacity to lead the party.

During the day, former AIADMK MLA Manoj Pandian also announced that the lawyers’ wing of the AIADMK had extended its support to Mr. Panneerselvam.


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