Turning emotional, AIADMK general secretary V.K. Sasikala on Sunday exhorted “129 MLAs” supporting her to be “with me” come what may to ensure that she defeats the “powerful forces” that are out to destroy the party and the state government. A combative Ms Sasikala also declared that she will never go back on the decision (of becoming chief minister) and that she will take “the right decision at the right time”.
Meeting MLAs who are now lodged at Koovathur, near Mamallapuram, for the second successive day, Ms Sasikala addressed the media along with her legislators to drive home the point that she still commands a majority in the AIADMK legislature party and hence she should be invited to form the government.
After meeting the MLAs separately, Ms Sasikala also addressed them at the conference hall of the Golden Bay resort and asked them to take a pledge that they would support her to ensure the AIADMK government that was installed by the late J. Jayalalithaa carries out people-friendly measures and projects.
“No one can stop my government. No one can create any hurdles. I am not scared of anyone. I will succeed,” Ms Sasikala said. Revealing the number of MLAs supporting her — she put the number at 129 — for the first time, Ms Sasikala termed herself a “little lion” as she had worked with the “lion” (Jayalalithaa) and asserted people who could form the government were sitting before her.
“Some people want to split the AIADMK. But the people who are here are the government. The people who can form the government in Tamil Nadu are here. You should all remember that Amma is with us. The media says all of you are locked up, but all of you are independent here. That is the reason why I asked them to record the event,” Ms Sasikala said, adding: “I will protect the party and the government even by sacrificing my life.”
Mr Panneerselvam claimed the MLAs were held against their will and “tortured” and sought their “release”.
Ms Sasikala alleged the MLAs were getting threats that their children would be abducted, but undeterred, they had chosen to stay and asked their relatives to take care of them. “It shows their dedication to this movement. I was moved… They (the MLAs) are keen there should not be slightest impediment to the AIADMK and the government,” she said.
The AIADMK chief insisted that neither their free movement nor their freedom of expression had been hindered and asked the journalists to “see it for yourselves”, and added: “They are in touch with their families over the phone.”
During a brief interaction with media, Ms Sasikala refused to comment about the pending judgment in the disproportionate assets case and said that the MLAs were “free” at the resort.
She also accused chief minister O. Panneerselvam of trying to split the AIADMK government as well as the party. Contending that her goal was to ensure that the government installed by the late Jayalalithaa should be “kept alive”, Ms Sasikala reminded the MLAs more than once that they should all stay united with her to ensure that the “designs of parties like the DMK” are defeated.
“If you are with me, we can together work for the people. I am not afraid of anyone. I never go back from my decision and I have never done that. I will take the right decision at the right time,” Ms Sasikala said.
She said once the government led by her is installed, the MLAs should visit their constituencies and explain to the people the events that unfolded. “We should also work towards winning all the 40 seats that are stake in the Lok Sabha elections and ensure the AIADMK scores a hat trick in the 2021 Assembly elections.