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Shot in the arm for OPS: MLA, 3 MPs join him

AIADMK general secretary VK Sasikala on Saturday appeared to be on the backfoot in her fight against Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam for control of the party.

State education minister Ma Foi Pandiarajan, former minister C Ponnaiyan and two Lok Sabha members, Krishnagiri MP Ashok Kumar and Namakkal MP PR Sundaram, joined the Panneerselvam camp. Sasikala, soon after, wrote a letter to governor C Vidyasagar Rao and urged him to meet her immediately. "Only to some extent we can be patient. After that we all together would do what needs to be done," she said.

In the past few weeks, if Panneerselvam's transformation from the eternal interim-CM to a rebel was surprising, Sasikala's makeover from backroom player to a ruthless party czarina was equally startling. She might have lost the element of surprise, but she was clearly not prepared to lose the initiative.

As the AIADMK power struggle showed no signs of easing, Panneerselvam received a shot in the arm after party spokesperson C Ponnaiyan and later, Tirupur MP V Sathyabama also joined the OPS camp on Saturday. As of now, a total of four MPs, out of 50, are with OPS.

Addressing media after joining the OPS faction, Ponnaiyan said Panneerselvam is the only person who can lead the party and not Sasikala. He added that Panneerselvam has been associated with the party for many years and assumed duty of Chief Minister thrice as interim chief.

Meanwhile, Sasikala met her MLAs at the Golden Bay resort in Kuvathur where they have been allegedly corralled into, in order to prevent any horse trading ahead of a probable floor test to prove majority. On the other hand, Raj Bhavan delayed its decision, plunging the state into uncertainty and prompting speculation around the possibility of Central rule.

Sasikala added that from Sunday onwards, AIADMK would begin a new kind of protest. "Delaying tactics is an attempt to create divisions in party. Please wait and watch," she told reporters. Shortly after her statement, Tiruvannamalai MP R Vanaroja also reached Paneerselvam's residence and extended his support to him.
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