Inquiry ordered into J Jayalalithaa death
Chennai: In a major step closer to a merger of AIADMK factions, the Tamil Nadu government on Thursday announced a probe by a retired high court judge into the death of late chief minister J Jayalalithaa over which suspicions were raised by the rebel camp.
Addressing a crowded press conference here, Chief Minister K Palaniswami also announced that the late AIADMK supremo's Poes Garden residence here, occupied by her till her hospitalisation last year, will be turned into a government- run memorial.
The twin announcements have virtually cleared the decks for the merger of the factions led by Palaniswami and rebel leader O Panneerselvam as they meet two of the key demands of the latter.
Palaniswami said the inquiry had been ordered in the backdrop of views expressed by several persons regarding Jayalalithaa's death eight months ago.
"Various news from various sections and forums are appearing in the media about the death of Puratchi Thalaivi Amma (Revolutionary leader as Jayalalithaa was called by her followers).
"An inquiry commission headed by retired high court judge will be set up to look into the death of 'Idhaya Deivam' (God of the heart) Amma," the chief minister said.
After rebelling against the leadership of AIADMK general secretary V K Sasikala in February last, Panneerselvam, a former chief minister, had raised suspicions over the circumstances surrounding Jayalalithaa's death.
While Panneerselvam demanded a probe, the matter also went to the Madras High Court where PILs had been filed by some persons seeking an inquiry and post-mortem.
However, the Sasikala camp had been criticising Panneerselvam's demand, saying it was he who was the chief minister during Jayalalithaa's hospitalisation and would be among the first to be questioned in case of a probe.
Palaniswami's announcements come days after his camp virtually nullified the appointment of T T V Dhinkaran as AIADMK deputy general secretary.
Incidentally, Dhinakaran had only a few days ago at a public rally in Madurai made a demand for a probe into Jayalalithaa's death, seeking to take the wind out of Panneerselvam camp's sails.
Palaniswami said the Commission would complete its work within an appropriate time frame and the name of the judge will be announced later.
The announcements have been made following representations from public and others and after due consideration by the government, the chief minister said.
Panneerselvam loyalist and former Minister K P Munusamy welcomed the decision to make Poes Garden residence a memorial.
On the inquiry, he said that they had actually demanded a CBI probe, though it was the chief minister's view to have a Commission of Inquiry.
Asked if the prospects for the merger have now brightened, he said, "as far as merger goes, it can happen only if Sasikala and her family are fully ousted (expelled) from the party."