In a setback for Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, who holds the custody rights for the prestigious gold armour presented by former chief minister J Jayalalithaa to be used in the guru pooja celebrations of freedom fighter and Mukkulathor icon Pasumpon Muthuramalinga Thevar, supporters of sidelined AIADMK leader TTV Dinakaran stopped their rival from obtaining the armour from the Bank of India’s Madurai Bench.
The guru pooja functions of Marudhu Pandiar brothers and Muthuramalinga Thevar had become a major occasion for both to mobilise support for them among the community.
When Panneerselvam, along with his ministerial colleagues, entered the bank to get the armour on Friday, Dinakaran supporters led by Melur Samy also came to the bank and expressed stiff opposition to entrustment of the armour to Panneerselvam. After hours of arguments, the bank officials refused to hand over it to Panneerselvam.
If OPS had got the armour, it could have been a major symbolic victory for him. But, he had to return empty handed this year. Having prevented the Deputy Chief Minister from walking away with the armour, Dinakaran told the media in Madurai that he had asked the bank to hand over the armour to the caretaker Gandhi Meenal alone. “Jayalalithaa had authorised Panneerselvam as the treasurer and not as an individual to get the armour,” he said. However, the Deputy Chief Minister said he had agreed to the settlement to end the deadlock.
“I was appointed by ‘Amma’ to guard the gold armour. The gold armour is in the custody of the bank. We agreed to hand over the armour to the bank to end the dispute. We gave a letter to the bank management asking them to release the armour for the guru pooja celebrations.”
Co-operatives Minister Sellur K Raju, speaking to DT Next, said the Deputy Chief Minister and the Ministers took the decision after consultations with Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami. “We cannot say this is a victory or defeat for anyone. We did not want to create problems in the celebrations of Thevar Ayya. We wanted to avoid law and order problem. Since, we are in the government, we have the responsibility to maintain law and order,” he said.