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Sasikala stakes claim to form govt, Governor seeks time

Tamil Nadu Governor Vidyasagar Rao met caretaker chief minister O Panneerselvam and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) general secretary VK Sasikala on Thursday.

“With Amma’s blessings and wishes, I met the governor and explained the situation to him. The truth will prevail. Good news will come soon,” Panneerselvam told supporters.

Sasikala, who was dressed in her signature green sari, visited Jayalalithaa’s memorial, and handed over an envelope containing the list of 130 MLAs supporting her to the governor. In the meeting that lasted 40 minutes, she staked claim to form the government.

Panneerselvam, who took charge as chief minister after the demise of Jayalalithaa on December 5, 2016, quit on February 5, 2017 following the elevation of Sasikala as legislature party leader. After the governor accepted his resignation, he revolted against her on Tuesday night, saying he was forced to resign and would take it back if needed.

Never in the recent history of the state has the governor’s itinerary been so closely followed as Rao’s in the last four days. The governor is likely to take fresh legal advice following the claims by both the camps. Sources in the OPS camp say that the governor would certainly provide the caretaker chief minister with a chance to prove his strength on the floor of the House.

Panneerselvam got a shot in the arm with the party’s presidium chairman E Madhusudanan, who ranks second in the hierarchy, siding with him. Several former ministers joined the swelling crowd at Greenways Road, where the residence of OPS is located. However, he has the support of just 5 MLAs.

Accusing Sasikala of betraying Jayalalithaa, Panneerselvam said that by allowing her family members to enter Poes Garden (Jayalalithaa’s residence where Sasikala continues to stay), she has betrayed Amma by not keeping her promise to sever ties with them.

In March 2012, he said, Sasikala had written to Jayalalithaa that she does not aspire for any post in the party or government and would sever ties with her family members who conspired against Jayalalithaa.

“All her (Sasikala) family members are back in Amma’s Veda Nillaya. Who has betrayed Amma now? ” he said, announcing that the Poes residence would be converted into a memorial and all articles used by Jayalalithaa would be protected.

Though the BJP has denied interfering in the internal affairs of AIADMK, the party’s state president Dr Tamilisai Soundararajan termed the decision of the governor delaying the visit to the state as right.

The governor did the “right thing” by not visiting Tamil Nadu earlier, and thereby, not coming under the influence of anyone, she told reporters. “Public support is with Panneerselvam. But unfortunately, in a democracy (only) numbers speak. The BJP is with the people of the state,” she added.

The AIADMK, with its 37 MPs in the Lok Sabha and 13 MPs in Rajya Sabha, has sided with the BJP in passing crucial pieces of legislation. A senior BJP leader said that Panneerselvam would provide the much-needed stability. “In case Sasikala was convicted in the disproportionate assets case, the party will disintegrate and the DMK might try to poach members. It will not be in the interest of the BJP,” the leader said.

Waiting to establish its foothold in Tamil Nadu politics, the BJP has seen an opportunity in the political vacuum created by Jayalalithaa’s death.


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