Sasikala as TN CM: After day of upheavals, AIADMK holds tight, DMK ups ante, BJP plays safe

Just Monday afternoon, things looked all clear for AIADMK general secretary VK Sasikala, who was set to become chief minister of Tamil Nadu.

But within 24 hours, things are a looking bit rough for her, as not only the swearing-in didn't happen but some sensational charges were also hurled at her by former speaker and AIADMK leader PH Pandian.

VK Sasikala. Image courtesy: Twitter/@AIADMKOfficial

VK Sasikala. Image courtesy: Twitter/@AIADMKOfficial

To add to the discomfiture of the party, the DMK, which was hitherto watching the proceedings from the sidelines, seemed to have decided enough is enough. DMK working president MK Stalin was drawing up plans to visit New Delhi, even scheduling appointments with President Pranab Mukherjee and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh. If things work in his favour, a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi is also on the cards.

And, adding to the flux-filled turn of events, officer on special duty at the Chief Minister's Office (CMO) Shantha Sheela Nair put in her papers, citing "personal reasons". Her resignation comes in the wake of other high-profile exits, of Sheela Balakrishnan (advisor to the state government) and Venkatraman and Ramalingam (secretaries to the chief minister). These resignations add intrigue to the already murky, thick-with-conspiracy theories air of Tamil Nadu politics.

But first thing first — the much-anticipated swearing-in ceremony at the University Centenary Hall came unstuck as acting governor Vidyasagar Rao put up a no-show. Sources in the know said that the governor, who air-dashed from Coimbatore to New Delhi on Monday, was closetted with Rajnath Singh over the developments in Tamil Nadu.

It was initially speculated that Rao wasn't keen on going ahead with administering the oath of office to Sasikala until the verdict in the disproportionate assets case, in which she is Accused No. 2, is out next week. But, by Tuesday morning, it emerged that he cannot hold up the swearing-in based on events that are moot.

It is now learnt that Rao is likely to fly to Chennai on Tuesday or Wednesday. He is currently in Mumbai, which is where he went from New Delhi on Monday.

Meanwhile, rumour mills also have it that BJP is firing from the shoulders of governor Rao, as it is ill-disposed towards the idea of Sasikala as chief minister. While the BJP top brass had struck up a good working relationship with outgoing chief minister O Panneerselvam (it was, ironically, even considered one of the reasons why OPS was shown the door by the AIADMK top brass), leaders of the saffron party have made it clear that they have no stake in the developments in the AIADMK camp. The party will not stand between AIADMK and whoever the party presents as its chief ministerial candidate, it has officially said.

"We have nothing to do with what the governor may or may not do," said party leader Vanathi Srinivasan.

Elsewhere, the DMK, while outwardly distancing itself from the events, saying that the whole thing is a matter between the AIADMK and the governor, has also upped the ante from its end. Sources in the party confirm that Stalin is indeed in touch with certain key leaders of the BJP. He was slated to take an evening flight to Delhi, where he is expected to persuade Mukherjee and Rajnath Singh against allowing Sasikala to become chief minister.

On the looks of it, Sasikala's imminent takeover as chief minister has brought the DMK and BJP on the same page. And how this development takes further shape is something to be seen, as it would have a long-standing impact on national politics too.

Meanwhile, AIADMK, while being relatively quiet on the developments, said there was no hitch in Sasikala's elevation. Party spokesperson C Ponnaiyan also pooh-poohed the charges raised by Pandian, and said they were made for "political gains".

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Updated Date: Feb 07, 2017 19:17:23 IST

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