Chennai: The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) on Saturday strongly defended former chief minister and party supremo Jayalalithaa's aide VK Sasikala, saying there is nothing wrong with its leaders calling on her as she is a key member.
The party further asserted that a person would soon be elected to the top post of general secretary.
Responding to a question related to state ministers' recent meetings with Sasikala, AIADMK Organisational Secretary C Ponnaiyan said: "Even if somebody (belonging to the party) met Sasikala Amma, what is wrong in it? Is she not an important member of the party? What you say is wrong."
Drawing a distinction between government-led by AIADMK and the party organisation, he told reporters at the party headquarters here that while the government was led by O Paneerselvam, the party was steered by elected party bodies.
"AIADMK is steered by party bodies, including general and executive committees and functionaries at multiple levels and Sasikala is a key member," Ponnaiyan, who is also the party spokesperson, said.
"Sasikala Amma lived with Puratchi Thalaivi Amma's (revolutionary leader Jayalalithaa's) last breath. Such questions are unnecessary."
Asked who the chief minister, ministers, and other top officials are consulting by visiting the Poes Garden residence of the departed AIADMK supremo and if it was Sasikala, he said, "they are having a meeting with the Chief Minister there."
"It (Veda Nilayam at Poes Garden) is Amma's house where Amma's portrait is there... We are in mourning and it is still not over... They are going there (also) to pay homage... It is not good to invent imaginative reasons for everything.”
"The party will soon elect a General Secretary who will guard the party and cadres who follow the footsteps of Amma with godly devotion and Tamil Nadu people," he added.
The party high command has taken a decision to elect a General Secretary and the election will happen soon, he said.
Asked about anger among some cadres against Sasikala as access was not provided to anyone to visit Jayalalithaa during her hospitalisation, he said: "It is a planned rumour and spread wantonly... Blaming this or that person is a deliberate rumour."
Ponnaiyan said some people were propagating several "rumours" and "falsehoods" through a section of the media about who will be the next General Secretary of the party.
"News being spread that this or that person may become the General Secretary are all only rumours. There is no truth in it," he said, adding there is no "jealousy" or "competition" in AIADMK, which is like a fortress and stayed united.
Asked about the role of Sasikala's husband Natarajan and other family members in the party, he said "this is an unnecessary question. The party is led and guarded by over 1.5 crore members."To another question on reported competition for AIADMK's
top post of General Secretary, Ponnaiyan said he had already clarified that such reports are just rumours.
"There is no such thing like competition or problems... There is nothing like this or that person competing (for the top post)," he said, adding AIADMK was a united party which has been built like a fortress by 'Amma'.
Ponnaiyan said AIADMK is an ideological fort with a boundless sense of unity and there was no room for questions like which person would be the General Secretary. "Only rumours are being spread and I am making this clear to you," he said.
He said though Jayalalithaa was no more, Amma (mother, as she was fondly referred to by party cadres) continued to "live as God" for them.
She had built the AIADMK as a "big banyan tree" infusing discipline and a sense of unity, he said.
Asked if there was a void in AIADMK in view of Jayalalithaa's demise, he said: "Till such time the 'atma' (soul) of MGR and that of Puratchi Thalaivi guard this party, there is no scope for saying that there is a void."
On the claim that the absence of a second rung leadership was responsible for the present void, he said, "why should you imagine this? There is no such thing like an atmosphere of the void... In this party, each and every cadre is a leader. Amma made ordinary workers as MLAs and Ministers. This is a party of workers, built by them and this is the philosophy of Amma and that is being followed."
On alleged interference of BJP in the election of AIADMK General Secretary, Ponnaiyan said: "These are rumours being spread for political reasons... Ours is an independent party with independent views on matters."
He said such a line of taking independent views on all matters was established by Amma, adding that her working style and approach would be continued.
Asked on whose command the party was being led now, he said "AIADMK is a party with duly elected functionaries. Hence the question does not arise. Ours is a united party."
He further said, "There is no problem. Claiming that there is a problem is an imaginative one."
(With PTI inputs)