BJP Can Give Moral Support, Says AIADMK Veteran Maitreyan, Backing O Panneerselvam

Hours after a rebellion in Tamil Nadu's ruling party by O Panneerselvam, a loyalist of J Jayalalithaa who took charge as Chief Minister after her death, one of the four persons to come out openly in his support is V Maitreyan.  The three-time Rajya Sabha member, who carries a photograph of Amma or Jayalalithaa in his pocket and vows to always do so, says more in the party are set to back Mr Panneerselvam, implying that a majority had no choice but to stand by VK Sasikala.

"The rank and file of the party cadre at the grassroots, the people at large - all want Amma's legacy to continue. At moment I strongly feel, especially after Mr Panneerselvam's statements last night that the rank and file of party will rally behind him," Mr Maitreyan told NDTV.

On "Chinamma" or Ms Sasikala, Jayalalithaa's long-time companion prepping to take over as Chief Minister, the lawmaker said, "The tide is not her favour."

State lawmakers, he said, wanted to "play safe" and see how the situation pans out.  "I have taken a decision with my conscience clear, and regardless of my position, I will continue to be a loyalist of Amma."

The AIADMK parliamentarian also indicated at support from the Centre but asserted that it "can only be moral support, not political support."

Mr Panneerselvam or OPS declared last night that he was forced to resign and make way for Ms Sasikala, and he would like to stay if party workers wanted.

"Sooner or later, MLAs will be forced to come out in support of OPS," said Mr Maitreyan.

The veteran said Governor Vidyasagar Rao "would take the right decision" as the Constitution was clear on forced resignations, as Mr Panneerselvam had claimed.

"As long as OPS hasn't personally handed over his resignation, the Governor has to satisfy himself that the resignation was voluntary," he said.

Mr Panneerselval, who was always known as Jayalalithaa's stand-in when she was forced to let someone else take over as Chief Minister while she confronted corruption cases, launched his rebellion moments after visiting the former Chief Minister's memorial at Chennai's Marina Beach and sitting there in meditation.

On speculation that the rebellion was egged on by the ruling BJP at the centre, Mr Maitreyan said, "It may be unnatural in Tamil Nadu but at the national level, people talk to each other regardless of party affiliation. Everyone will talk to everybody."