Chennai: For the first time, Opposition AIADMK coordinator and former Chief Minister O Panneerselvam Monday appeared before the one-man Retired Justice A.Arumughaswamy Commission inquiring into the circumstances that led to the death of former CM J Jayalalithaa.
J Elavarasi, sister-in-law of ousted AIADMK leader V K Sasikala also appeared before the Commission.
The Commission, which has been conducting an investigation into the death of the former AIADMK Supremo, had so far inquired over 154 people, including Apollo Hospital doctors, nurses, Jayalalithaa’s staff and several others.
The panel had earlier issued eight summons to Panneerselvam. But he did not appear before it and sought more time citing his busy work schedule.
After he was summoned for the ninth time on 9 March this year, the AIADMK leader Monday deposed it for the first time.
Constitution of an one-man Commission to probe Jayalalithaa’s death was one of the key demands made by Panneerselvam for the merger of the two warring factions of AIADMK in 2017 after he revolted against then Party leader V K Sasikala after she aspired to become the Chief Minister.
Replying to several questions put forth by the panel, he said he did not meet Jayalalithaa after her participation in the inauguration of second phase of Chennai Metro services in the city and that he was in his native place when she was hospitalised on 22 September, 2016.
Jayalalaithaa died on 5 December, 2016 after 75 days of treatment at the hospital.
Panneerselvam, who was questioned for nearly two hours, said he knew that she was suffering from diabetics and that he was not aware of her other ailments.
He also said that he was getting details of her health condition and the nature of treatment given to her in the hospital through the then Health Minister Dr C.Vijayabaskar.
He also came to know from Vijayabaskar that she was suffering from cardiac ailment only a week before her death. He said he was also not aware about the treatment given to her for heart ailment and the doctors who had treated her.
Earlier, Elavarasi told the Arumughaswamy Commission that she never met Jayalalitha in the hospital and that she only saw her through the glass windows in Jayalalithaa’s room though she visited the hospital for 75 days.
Deposing before the Commission after the lunch break, Panneerselvam, said he had suggested that like late Chief Ministers Anna (C N Annadurai) and MGR, Jayalalithaa too can be be flown abroad for treatment.
‘I conveyed this to then Ministers Velumani and Vijayabaskar. To this Vijayabaskar said it can be decided after discussing with Apollo doctors’, he said.
‘I said this to Apollo chairman’s son-in-law Vijyakumar Reddy also. But Reddy said there is good improvement in her health condition and that she will return home in one week’s time’, the AIADMK leader said.
Stating that the then Chief Secretary Ram Mohan rao did not say anything about taking Jayalalithaa to abroad for treatment, he said, ‘If they had told me that she can be flown abroad for treatment, I would have signed the files immediately.’
Panneerselvam said AIIMS doctors were brought by Rao, Vijayabaskar and Health Secretary DrJ Radhakrishnan for treating her.
He said he did not ask the hospital authorities to remove the CCTV cameras in the area where Jayalalithaa was being treated.
On the invitation of Sasikala, a team of US doctors flew down to treat Jayalalithaa , he said, adding he did not know why they returned without treating her.
He said ‘what all I said (in my press meets) right from the start of my Dharmayudham–the revolt against Sasikala–and till I took over as Deputy Chief Minister, is correct’.
Panneerselvam was questioned by the panel for a about three-and-a-half hours–spread over two sessions–and was posed with more than 75 questions.