The tug of war for power in Tamil Nadu saw AIADMK General Secretary V.K. Sasikala staking her claim to form the government, while caretaker Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam voiced confidence that “justice will win”, though the numbers at present do not stack up in his favour.
The entire political drama was centered at the Raj Bhavan, after Governor C. Vidyasagar Rao arrived in the afternoon from Mumbai. Both Sasikala and Panneerselvam met him, with the former handing the Governor letters of support given by her party legislators.
Sasikala was accompanied by senior ministers for her evening meeting with Rao.
According to AIADMK statement issued late in the night, Sasikala handed over the documents electing her as the leader of the legislature party. But the AIADMK statement was strangely silent on the number of legislators supporting her.
Before going to Raj Bhavan, Sasikala went to J. Jayalalithaa’s memorial at Marina beach and paid homage there.
She also kept a large sized envelope at the memorial as a mark of seeking the late Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s blessings.
Earlier in the evening, Tamil Nadu’s acting Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam met Rao.
Speaking to reporters after meeting Rao at 5 p.m. Panneerselvam said: “I met the Governor and briefed him about the happenings in the state.”
“Justice will win,” declared Paneerselvam, who has the support of five legislators as of now
Earlier, in an interview the caretaker Chief Minister voiced confidence of winning majority.
In an interview to a Tamil channel, Panneerselvam declining to reveal the number of legislators who were supporting him but said he would prove his strength on the floor of the house.
He said that party legislators will have the chance to vote as per their conscience and he would be able to prove his majority.
In a move to consolidate his power, Panneerselvam on Thursday also said the Poes Garden residence of Jayalalithaa would be converted into a memorial.
He made the comment while welcoming the support of AIADMK’s Presidium Chairman E. Madhusudanan, who had earlier pressed Sasikala to lead the party.
Sasikala, a long-time confidante of Jayalalithaa who died in December, now resides at the house.
Panneerselvam welcomed to his camp Madhusudanan, who said his conscience told him to join hands with Panneerselvam.
In a related development in New Delhi, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan rejected a notice by the AIADMK on Tamil Nadu Governor Rao asking that the swearing in of Sasikala as Chief Minister be expedited.
Mahajan said in the Lok Sabha that she had received a notice of adjournment from AIADMK leader P. Venugopal.
“The notice is regarding the conduct of the Governor. This can’t be discussed in the house. So I can’t allow,” Mahajan said, disallowing other notices of adjournment given by opposition members as well.
The AIADMK members also created a ruckus in the House, demanding early swearing in of Sasikala.
The AIADMK members trooped near the Speaker’s podium shouting slogans like “Save democracy in Tamil Nadu”.
On Wednesday Panneerselvam had said a commission of inquiry headed by a sitting Supreme Court judge would be set up to probe into the death of Jayalalithaa.
She passed away on December 5, 2016 after being admitted to Apollo Hospitals for 75 days. There is widespread doubt about her death and hence the probe.
Panneerselvam had resigned as Chief Minister on February 5, and his resignation was accepted by Governor C. Vidyasagar Rao.
On that day Sasikala was elected as the leader of the legislature party so that she could become the Chief Minister.
Rao had asked Panneerselvam to continue till alternate arrangement was made.
On Tuesday, in a dramatic turn of events, Panneerselvam after meditating 40 minutes at Jayalalithaa’s memorial dropped the ‘Paneer Bomb’.
He said he was compelled to resign as Chief Minister and propose Sasikala for the post of leader of legislature party.
Meanwhile DMK Working President M.K. Stalin in a statement said the Governor should see that the vote of confidence is held in the state assembly.
He also said the AIADMK legislators were being housed in resorts.
PMK leader S. Ramadoss has demanded a CBI probe into the death of Jayalalithaa.