In a surprise move, outgoing Tamil Nadu interim Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam said late Tuesday he was forced to resign from the post, openly challenging the choice of VK Sasikala taking on the mantle as Tamil Nadu's chief minister and highlighting the growing rift within the AIADMK.
Panneerselvam made a surprise visit to J. Jayalalithaa's burial site late Tuesday, sitting alone in mediation, paying respects, and staging a silent protest against the imminent swearing-in of Sasikala on Thursday.
Addressing the media following his visit to Jaya's burial site, he said he may withdraw his resignation if the "people and AIADMK party cadres wish."
"There are some truths that I want to tell to my party cadre and to the people of this country. I have performed my duty without any shortcomings and carried forward path shown by Amma," ANI reported him as saying.
"When she (Jayalalithaa) was in the hospital, she (asked me to take over as Chief Minister. I was told that I have to save the party and the state. I was given the post but was then insulted continuously," the interim CM said.
Following his media address, an emergency meeting has been called at Sasikala's residence of legislators and top ministers, NDTV reported.
Earlier on Tuesday, veteran AIADMK leader and former assembly Speaker P H Pandian strongly objected to the elevation of Sasikala, saying she did not deserve to be the party chief or Chief Minister, raising fresh doubts over the circumstances surrounding Jayalalithaa's death.
The AIADMK shot back at the allegations, dubbing him a "betrayer who joined the ranks of detractors and causing confusion."
The latest rift leaves the future of Tamil Nadu remains uncertain, with the Centre closely watching the developments.
With PTI and ANI inputs