Palaniswami new TN CM: Panneerselvam's rebellion reminiscent of 2015 Jitan Ram Manjhi impasse in Bihar

The ongoing drama within the ruling AIADMK took a different turn on Thursday when Tamil Nadu Governor C Vidyasagar Rao invited Edappadi Palaniswami to form the Tamil Nadu government. The political drama, which began on 5 February, bore some similarities with the political impasse which took place in Bihar in February 2015.

After being trounced in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Nitish Kumar resigned and made Jitan Ram Manjhi the new chief minister. However, after a series of controversies, Nitish decided to return as the chief minister. The JD(U) legislature party then elected Nitish as its leader and it was then that the crisis began — Manjhi refused to vacate his post as the chief minister.

What had happened in Bihar last year, replayed itself (almost) in Tamil Nadu,  when Panneerselvam dramatically rebelled against the elected leader of the legislature party, VK Sasikala, and refused to resign as the chief minister. He also claimed that he resigned  under duress and had to face humiliation by Sasikala loyalists many times.

On 13 February 2015, the then Bihar chief minister Manjhi addressed the press and said that he was not a "rubber stamp" chief minister and promised to prove his majority. The then Bihar Governor KN Tripathi had told Manjhi to face a floor test on 20 February. On the day the warring factions had to prove their majority, Manjhi was a no-show and as per the anti-defection law of 1985, he was disqualified.

VK Sasikala and O Panneerselvam

VK Sasikala and O Panneerselvam

Now, sample what is unfolding in Tamil Nadu. Panneerselvam has been asked to prove his majority on the floor of the House within 15 days (starting Thursday). However, it is almost an impossible task for OPS and his camp to prove a two-third majority in the House within 15 days. What happens to the OPS camp, still remains to be seen. But the similarity between Manjhi and OPS is a curious one.

Interestingly, both Panneerselvam and Manjhi were considered proxies for their political masters  — J Jayalalithaa and Nitish Kumar. On his part, Panneerselvam remained the Man Friday for Jayalalithaa, being the proxy for the late leader in 2001-02 and 2014-15.

During the crisis in Bihar, the JDU had blamed the BJP of engineering a split in the party. On the other hand, Manjhi had accused Nitish Kumar of indulging in horse-trading. Cut forward to current Tamil Nadu crisis, and Sasikala camp members have feared horse trading and accused the DMK and the BJP-led Centre of trying to split the party.

In 2015, Nitish Kumar claimed the support of the majority of the MLAs and also paraded them at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. In Tamil Nadu's case too, the majority of MLAs have rallied behind Sasikala. But no parade of MLAs has taken place either in Raj Bhavan or the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

In the end, Manjhi formed his own party — Hindustan Awam Morcha.

In Tamil Nadu's case, Panneerselvam's quest for seeking a majority looks all but over after the governor appointed Palaniswami as the next chief minister. However, Palaniswami has also been accused of being a proxy chief minister. Sasikala, after her conviction in the disproportionate assets case, is ineligible to be in active politics for the next ten years. However, it is believed that she will still rule the state behind bars.  The former Jaya aide has also appointed her nephew TTV Dinakaran as the party's deputy general secretary. This signals the fact that the party will remain under Sasikala family's control.

(With inputs from agencies)

To read more on the AIADMK crisis, click here.

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Updated Date: Feb 16, 2017 14:28:00 IST

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