Thursday, February 9, 2017

Ahead Of Sasikala's Meeting With Governor, AIADMK No. 2 Joins Panneerselvam: 10 Facts

Ahead of VK Sasikala's meeting with Governor C Vidyasagar Rao today to stake claim to be Tamil Nadu's next chief minister, a top leader of her party the AIADMK, E Madhusudhanan, has defected to the side of O Pannerselvam, who has underscored that he will not give up the Chief Minister's post without a fight. 
Though Ms Sasikala has complete support within their party, Mr Panneerselvam says that many legislators are privately in touch with him and will support him if he is allowed to take a trust vote. To minimize his influence or reach, as also that of political rivals like the DMK, Ms Sasikala had since yesterday placed all but three of her party's legislators in hotels and resorts.
  1. Mr Madhusudhanan, who was among those sequestered by Ms Sasikala, is the AIADMK's number 2 as its Presidium Chairman.  He arrived a short while ago at Mr Panneerselvam's residence and the two leaders have announced a "silent protest" against Ms Sasikala.
  2. What happens next in the political crisis depends entirely on the Governor, who has been criticised for staying away from Chennai. His absence has allowed Ms Sasikala's opponents the opportunity to transform what promised to be a hitchless ascension backed by her entire party into a political crisis.
  3. Ms Sasikala's supporters say that the Governor has therefore played a not-so-covert role in undermining her legitimate right to take over as Chief Minister.  Even now 130 of her party's 134 lawmakers back her, so her control over the AIADMK is air-proof. These legislators have been held in clusters at hotels to ensure they do not change their minds.
  4. Mr Panneerselvam says their isolation amounts to them being held hostage. "If she is so sure of their support", he said on NDTV last night, why is she not allowing them to talk to me?"
  5. The Supreme Court has said that it will rule next week on whether VK Sasikala and Ms Jayalalithaa are guilty of corruption in a case dating to the early 90s. The Governor has reportedly sought legal advice on whether Ms Sasikala should be asked to wait to take office till the verdict is delivered.
  6. On Sunday, the AIADMK met and decided that VK Sasikala will be the new Chief Minister. Mr Panneerselvam sent his resignation to the Governor. 48 hours later, he dramatically announced that he was coerced to quit.  
  7. His revelation was made at the beach-side memorial of J Jayalalithaa, his mentor, who died in December while she was Chief Minister after nearly 70 days in hospital. Ms Jayalalithaa, a four-time head of state, had immaculate control over the party and deity-like status among lakhs of supporters who referred to her as "Amma" or mother.
  8. Because Ms Sasikala was her constant companion, she is known as "Chinnamma" (mother's younger sister). When Jayalalithaa died, it was Ms Sasikala who ensured that within hours, Mr Panneerselvam became Chief Minister. The top-speed action was intended to pre-empt a contest for leadership after Ms Jayalalithaa's death.
  9. Though O Pannerselvam says he will push for the chance to take a trust vote in the legislature, he cannot withdraw the resignation he sent on Sunday. At the time, he was asked by the Governor to serve as an interim Chief Minister and has spent the last few hours proving that he is the head of the state, meeting with top bureaucrats and police officials.
  10. Public opinion appears tilted in his favour because he is seen as an efficient administrator who was hand-picked by Ms Jayalalithaa twice to fill in for her as chief Minister when corruption cases forced her to step down. While she was hospitalised, he was entrusted with running key departments that reported directly to her.  In contrast, Ms Sasikala is being vetoed on social media and in Chennai for lacking any credential other than her proximity to Ms Jayalalithaa. She has never won an election either within or outside her party.

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