AIADMK general secretary VK Sasikala repeatedly dabbed her cheeks with a handkerchief as she addressed 129 MLAs at the Golden Bay Resort in Koovathur near Mahabalipuram, on a day 10 MPs deserted her to join the rival O Panneerselvam camp. She called herself a "little lioness" mandated to keep the party together. And revealed one more thing — J. Jayalalithaa's last words purportedly spoken to her on the former Chief Minister's death bed.
"No one can destroy our party," Sasikala reportedly told the MLAs.
"You are not highly educated, but Amma was. Despite that, she trained you so that you could dream of one day becoming an MLA. Don't forget what she did. How she raised you up from your humble origins," Times of India quoted her as telling the legislators.
Sasikala has maintained that the men are at the resort on their own and were not held hostage.
O Panneerselvam, former CM of Tamil Nadu, however has maintained that they were held at the resort against their will.
"None of the MLAs are being held captive. They all have access to their mobile phones and are in constant touch with their families. They have received threats from some people," she said.
Meanwhile News18 reported that Panneerselvam may send in the police to the luxury resort to "free" the MLAs. The publication quoted Durai Pandian, a Panneerselvam ally as saying that the caretaker CM is considering that as an option.
"They are in touch with their families over phone", Sasikala said, refuting claims that the MLAs have no access to their families.
"You 129 MLAs are like an ocean. None can contain it by building a check dam. No efforts will destabilise this government. None can hurt us and there is no need to fear," she said, addressing them.
Rajya Sabha MP V Maitreyan was the first Parliamentarian to extend support to Panneerselvam, reported PTI. Lok Sabha MPs -- PR Sundaram, K Ashok Kumar, V Sathyabama and Vanaroja switched over to his camp yesterday. Panneerselvam also enjoys support of six AIADMK MLAs. In the 234-member state Assembly, AIADMK has 134 members.
Meanwhile, journalists assembled near the Golden Bay resort said that they were attacked on Sunday by security personnel deployed there for the legislators. The attackers also allegedly snatched the camera and mobile phones of some journalists, according to IANS.
Journalist associations - the Madras Union of Journalists and the Tamil Nadu Union of Journalists - and DMK Working President M.K.Stalin condemned the attack on the journalists.
The people guarding the resort have also cordoned off the public road leading to the resort which is being opposed by the local populace.