78 questions and one answer...How ADMK's Panneerselvam played a new drama at Arumugasamy commission?

ADMK leader O Panneerselvam has on Monday staged a new drama where he alerted his own scripts and played it with a stereotyped dialogue before the Arumusamy Commission, an independent body that inquires the death of the then Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, J Jayalalithaa. To say in precise, the commission was set up based on the demand from Panneerselvam and now he has made an attempt to estrange himself from finding the fact of the final days of Jayalalithaa, to whom he had surrendered his loyalty until her demise. 

Panneerselvam had on Monday appeared before the commission for the first time after several subpoenas and he played a drama of delivering the same dialogue for questions. According to reports, the commission has asked Panneerselvam 78 questions and for most of them, he kept the same answer with different phrases- 'I don't know' and 'I have no idea'. After recording his answers, the commission has directed him to appear again on Tuesday - March 22.  

If we rewind five years back, we would remember Panneerselvam's 'Dharma Yutham' that he held at Jayalalithaa's memorial. After this episode, Panneerselvam had revolted against VK Sasikala camp and stood against the then ADMK government headed by Edappadi Palaniswami with the backing of VK Sasikala. While VK Sasikala was incarcerated in Bangalore, the rivalling factions of Panneerselvam and Palaniswami had merged together after the latter had assured to meet the demands from the former. 

For a merger, Panneerselvam has demanded Edappadi Palaniswami form an inquiry commission to probe the death of Jayalalithaa. As per the demand, Palaniswami had then announced that an inquiry commission will be formed under retired High Court judge Justice Arumugasamy. But, little did Panneerselvam know that the commission inquiry would boomerang against him. With his demand to order the probe, Panneerselvam had showcased that he would fight for justice for Jayalalithaa's death.

Following the merger, Panneerselvam was awarded the Deputy Chief Minister post and while he was in power, the commission has summoned him for investigation as claimed about the mystery behind Jayalalithaa's death. While he was in power, he had sent reasons to the commission and skipped the summons and the commission's inquiry was suspended based on litigation at the Supreme Court and owing to the pandemic. 

His decision to skip the summons had damaged his image that he was fighting for justice for Jayalalithaa's death and as Tamil Nadu is now been ruled by the DMK, the Commission has recently resumed its inquiry and summoned Panneerselvam again to appear before the commission on March 25. A similar summon was sent to VK Sasikala's relative Ilavarasi. From his Dharma Yutham in 2017 to the present day ADMK, the party has been witnessing unending leadership and political crisis and as VK Sasikala is out of prison, she is working out to regain control over the party. 

The reports say that as Panneerselvam is considering allying with VK Sasikala by ending the dispute, he has now played a new drama at the Commission and acted as if he was neither aware of the treatment nor was close to Jayalalithaa. For most of the questions, he had answered he doesn't know and his drama has boomeranged against him as the true Jayalalithaa supporters ask that on what grounds he had claimed of a mystery behind her death and on what grounds he demanded to set up an inquiry commission to investigate Jayalalithaa's death. 

With his new drama, Panneerselvam has come under scrutiny over his political ideology. On Monday- March 21, he appeared before the Commission for the ninth summon. The inquiry with him had lasted for over three hours. During the inquiry, Panneerselvam claimed that he doesn't know the line of treatment for Jayalalithaa and about the doctors who treated her. He said that when Jayalalithaa was hospitalized, he was at his hometown Theni and he arrived at the hospital the next day and inquired about her health condition to the then Chief Secretary Ram Mohan Rao. 

He said that he came to know about Jayalalithaa's meeting at the hospital with the officials over the Cauvery river issue through the statement that was published aftermath. Panneerselvam has claimed that he asked the then Health Minister C Vijayabaskar about Jayalalithaa's health condition one week ahead of her demise. He said, "I have met Jayalalithaa for the last time at the Metro rail event, a day ahead of her hospitalization, and I have never seen her again." He said that he was aware only of the diabetes condition that Jayalalithaa had suffered and had no idea about the other ailments. 

He further claimed that he doesn't know why Jayalalithaa was admitted to the hospital. He confessed, "In 35 days of Jayalalithaa's hospitalization, I have told ministers C Vijayabaskar and Velumani to take Jayalalithaa abroad for her treatment like former Chief Ministers Annadurai and MGR." He claimed, "The then Chief Secretary Ram Mohan Rao didn't speak with me about taking Jayalalithaa abroad and if he would have told me, I would have approved it." 

When asked about the removal of CCTV cameras from the ward where Jayalalithaa was admitted, Panneerselvam said, "I didn't ask the hospital to remove the CCTV cameras." The inquiry on Monday had been held in two sessions during which the advocate of the commission had asked 78 questions to Panneerselvam and he kept the same answer for most of them. Following the inquiry, the commission has ordered Panneerselvam to appear for the second round of investigation on Tuesday. 

The then Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa was admitted to Apollo Hospitals in Chennai on September 22, 2016. Her days at the hospital still remain a mystery as it has been alleged that she was under the care of VK Sasikala and no one was allowed to meet her. O Panneeerselvam was second in line in the state ministry and several key roles held by Jayalalithaa were transferred to Panneerselvam and it has been said that this transition has occurred with Jayalalithaa's consent. However, Tamil Nadu didn't have any solid evidence of her hospitalization. 

After 75 days of her hospitalization, Jayalalithaa has died on December 5, 2016, and following her demise, Panneerselvam took over as the Chief Minister. However, he had resigned his post in a few weeks as it was alleged that VK Sasikala will take over the power. However, Sasikala was sent to jail in the disproportionate assets case and ahead of her prison sentence, Panneerselvam had held Dharma Yutham at Jayalalithaa's memorial against VK Sasikala and from there, he began his campaign to investigate Jayalalithaa's death. After five years, he has now played a new drama that he doesn't know anything with regard to Jayalalithaa's hospitalization and her health condition.