I don’t have doubts over Jaya’s death, I respect Sasikala: OPS

Chennai: For the second successive day, former Tamilnadu Chief Minister and Opposition AIADMK coordinator O Panneerselvam on Tuesday deposed before the retired Justice Arumughaswamy Commission and answered questions posed by him.

Like Monday, he appeared before the Commission, probing the circumstances that led to the death of former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, both in the morning and in evening Tuesday and the entire process lasted more than eight hours, spread over two days.

During cross-examination Raja Senthoor Pandian, who is the counsel for expelled AIADMK interim generalsSecretary VK Sasikala, a close-aide of Jayalalithaa, Panneerselvam, who had raised a banner of revolt against her in February 2017, said personally, he had high regard and respect for her.

His remarks assumes significance as Panneerselvam and AIADMK joint coordinator Edappadi K Palaniswami had been opposed her re-induction into the party amid chorus by a section favouring her re-entry in the wake of the party suffering three successive electoral defeats starting from 2019 Lok Sabha polls, 2021 Assembly polls and the recent Urban Local Body polls.

He also said he did not have any suspicions about Jayalalithaa’s death was only reflecting the doubts in the minds of the people when he demanded setting up of an Inquiry commission to probe the circumstances leading to her death.

Panneerselvam said he never had any suspicion against Sasikala at any point of time (on Jayalalithaa’s death) and said he favoured a Commission of Inquiry to clear the doubts in the minds of the people, according to Pandian.

He said he did not meet Jayalalithaa in hospital and said ‘at about 10 – 10.30 pm (on 5 December, 2016, the day she was declared dead after 75 days of hospitalisation), three senior Ministers (including me) were called to see ‘Amma’ (as Jayalalithaa was called) as her ECMO ventilator support was about to be pulled. We were told that almost everything was over,’ he submitted.

Later, talking to reporters, Panneerselvam said he had answered all questions posed by the Commission and the counsel for Sasikala. To a question, he also reiterated that personally he had respect and regard for Sasikala.