Chennai: The power struggle in Tamil Nadu's ruling AIADMK continued on Sunday with more MPs joining acting Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam, even as party chief V.K. Sasikala said that legislators with her were being threatened but asserted that those who think she will get scared being a woman were wrong.
Six Lok Sabha members on Sunday extended support to Panneerselvam, who is locked in a bitter battle with Sasikala, taking the total number in Pannerselvam's camp to ten and weakening the unified clout the AIADMK enjoyed in the lower house as the third largest group.
R.Parthipan (Theni), S. Rajendran (Villupuram), V. Elumalai (Arani), R.P. Marutharajaa (Perambalur), B. Senguttuvan (Vellore) and Jeyasingh Thiyagaraj Natterjee (Tuticorin) visited Panneerselvam at his residence here.
"Since MPs are not in captivity unlike the state legislators supporting Sasikala, they are openly expressing their support to Panneerselvam," said a party official.
"We expect six more MLAs to join us," an AIADMK leader told IANS preferring anonymity.
On Sunday, R. Lakshmanan became the second Rajya Sabha member of the AIADMK to join the Panneerselvam camp.
It was Rajya Sabha's V. Maintreyan who was the first to throw his lot with Panneerselvam after he revolted against Sasikala when she was set to become the Chief Minister following her election as the legislature party leader of the AIADMK in the Tamil Nadu assembly.
The AIADMK has 37 members in the Lok Sabha. Until recently, all of them were with Sasikala, a long-time confidante of the late Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa.
On Saturday, four Lok Sabha members - V. Sathyabama (Tirupur), K. Ashok Kumar (Krishnagiri), P.R. Sundaram (Namakkal) and R. Vanaroja (Thiruvannamalai) - joined the Panneerselvam camp.
The number of MPs supporting Panneerselvam is more than the number of state legislators (six excluding Panneerselvam) backing him.
Sasikala, who visited legislators put up at a beach resort near here for the second day in succession, said that if some people think that she would get scared at being threatened due to a woman, they were mistaken.
Addressing party legislators housed at the Golden Bay Beach resort near Mahabalipuram, she said: "If they think I can be threatened because of me being a woman then it would not happen."
In an extempore speech, she said: "I was with a lion (late Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa). I am the little new lion. They tried to net me. This lion will come out the net."
"I will not fear anybody. Nobody can shake this party and the government. I will not back track from a decision taken," she said.
She also said that the family members of party legislators are being threatened, and the party is chalking out plans for next course of action.
Speaking to reporters at the beach resort, she said the opposition is spreading rumours that the lawmakers are being held captive.
"Legislators here told me how their family members are being threatened over phone. They have asked their relatives to take care of their children," Sasikala said.
Queried about the protest plan that she announced on Saturday if the Governor does not call her to form the government, she said: "Some preparatory work is being done for that."
Sasikala said she knows who are spreading the rumours about the party.
Asked about the delay on the part of Governor in calling her to form the government, she said that everybody knows the reason but did not elaborate further.
Sasikala on Sunday said the party has crossed several hurdles and survived betrayals in the past and true cadre are its foundation.
She also said the letter purported to be written by her to the Governor threatening to commit suicide is a fake.