New Delhi, Feb 14: After being convicted in the disproportionate assets case, AIADMK supremo VK Sasikala switched to her alternative plan: appointing Edappadi Palanisamy as leader of AIADMK legislature party. Palanisamy, currently serving as State Cabinet Minister, has committed allegiance to Sasikala. On Monday evening, the Chinamma loyalist met Governor C Vidyasagar Rao, along with a section of Sasikala camp MLAs, staking claim over the government in Tamil Nadu. Also Read - 7 Injured in Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu's Madurai
Palanisamy’s meeting with Governor lasted for nearly an hour. He handed over the list of AIADMK MLAs who are backing him as the Chief Minister. The list reportedly names 125 AIADMK MLAs. ALSO READ: Sasikala convicted in Disproportionate Asset case; list of other Indian politicians who faced same charges Also Read - Jallikattu Begins in Tamil Nadu's Madurai Amid COVID Restrictions | WATCH Here
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Palanisamy still holds the edge over O Panneerselvam, the acting chief minister who rebelled against Sasikala. Although OPS has turned into populist leader following his act of rebellion, he still lacks the numbers to form majority. Despite Panneerselvam’s claim to hold a floor test, Governor could give priority to Palanisamy as he reportedly enjoys the support of 125 AIADMK MLAs, 7 more than the majority mark.
On the other hand, Panneerselvam enjoys the support of only 10 AIADMK MLAs.
Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi claims that the Governor could appoint Palanisamy as the Chief Minister if he illustrates his majority before him. “If Mr Palanisamy has the numbers in his favour, then the Governor should get him sworn as the next chief minister. Alternatively, he should also order a floor test in the assembly. Because the legislative assembly is the place where majority could be proved in most appropriate manner,” he said, while speaking to NDTV.
However, Rohatgi looked more leaned towards a floor test in the assembly rather than appointing a new government based upon numbers. “The Governor should follow the example of Jagdambika Pal case. Both he and rival Kalyan Singh (in Uttar Pradesh) staked claim for the post of chief minister. Since there were rival claimants, the then Governor had ordered a floor test.”
Senior Supreme Court advocate Mohan Parasaran also pointed out that the Governor could recommend Centre to impose President’s rule in the state, as the political situation continues to remains volatile in Tamil Nadu.
About Palanisamy – the veteran AIADMK legislator
Palanisamy, a loyal supporter of Jayalalithaa, has now transferred his allegiance to Sasikala. He is among the tallest leader within Chinnamma’s camp. Experts opine that Palanisamy was the most appropriate leader whom Sasikala could choose as stand-in, similar to the manner in which Jayalalithaa appointed Panneerselvam as substitute chief minister after being convicted on couple of occasions in the same disproportionate assets case.
Palanisamy is not green in terms of political experience. He was first elected to the Tamil Nadu assembly in 1971, on the DMK ticket. He switched allegiance to AIADMK in 1984, shortly before the ascension of Jayalalithaa at the helm of party affairs. Palanisamy continued to win from the Edappadi constituency in 1984, 1989, 1991, 2011 and 2016.
The veteran AIADMK legislator was serving as the Minister for Highways and Minor Ports under the current government. In the biggest elevation yet in his career, Palanisamy was appointed as the AIADMK legislature party leader on Tuesday, paving his way to become the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu.