A day after Edappadi Palaniswami (EPS) accused O Panneerselvam (OPS) of meeting Tamil Nadu chief minister M K Stalin for half an hour after the assembly proceedings, OPS challenged him on Thursday to prove the same. “It’s not the truth. If he can prove that I had met the chief minister, then we will quit politics,” OPS said while speaking to reporters outside the Chennai airport.
“But, if Edappadi Palaniswami cannot prove it, will he quit politics?” asked OPS.
The AIADMK has been alleging that OPS and CM Stalin are colluding against them. EPS had called OPS a “B-Team of the DMK” during the protest on Wednesday. “Stalin is trying to use OPS against the AIADMK. Yesterday, after the assembly concluded, OPS and Stalin spoke for half-an-hour,” EPS had said on Wednesday.
Reacting to the same, OPS said: “Everyone knows EPS has been in the wrong from the beginning. Party cadre and public know who started the problems in AIADMK. After committing such a sin, it’s wrong to blame someone else,” OPS said.
The DMK has previously also denied allegations of them being in touch with OPS.
The brief three-day assembly session which began this week was a hotbed of politics. After the Speaker M Appavu did not change seating arrangements — presently EPS and OPS have to sit next to each other — EPS and the 60-odd MLAs supporting him boycotted the assembly session on Monday. However, OPS and three MLAs supporting him marked their attendance.
The EPS faction had wanted the Speaker to accept their removal of OPS and replace him with R B Udhayakumar, their choice as the new deputy leader of opposition.
The Speaker didn’t allow them stating that the Question Hour of the Assembly is meant to discuss people’s issues and assured EPS that they would be given an to raise their grievance post that.
“Stalling the proceedings and shouting is anti-democratic,” Appavu had said and directed the Assembly marshals to evict EPS and MLAs supporting him. In retaliation, EPS-led AIADMK wore black shirts and protested in Chennai against their eviction from the Assembly.
EPS remains the leader of the opposition and AIADMK’s new interim general secretary. After chief minister Stalin introduced a resolution against imposition of Hindi , OPS supported it saying, “The AIADMK wholly and unanimously welcomes this.” On the same day, the ruling DMK government tabled two reports to corner the AIADMK.
One was the Justice Aruna Jagadeesan Commission probing the 2018 Thoothukudi police firing during which 13 anti-Sterlite protesters were killed. The Commission called EPS “lethargic in not acting on a crucial information and recommended action against 17 police officers, a district collector and several others”.
The other one was Justice A Arumugasamy Commission probing former chief minister J Jayalalithaa’s death which indicted V K Sasikala and several big names and came down hard on OPS on whose insistence the panel was formed as a condition for his merger with EPS back in 2017. When asked about the Arumugasamy Commission’s report, OPS reacted for the first time on Thursday. “Some people who have been indicted in it plan to move court so until the case is complete, I do not wish to comment on it,” OPS said.