Stalling VK Sasikala's swearing-in as Tamil Nadu CM is an untenable battle for Centre

Centre-state battlelines, it would appear, have been drawn.

But, the Centre does not want to be seen as unnecessary interfering in Tamil Nadu's political imbroglio. There are all indications that it will go by the rule book of the Constitution and allow VK Sasikala to be sworn in as chief minister. Despite skepticism about Sasikala’s ascension to the chair of the chief minister among the top BJP leadership, it would be next to impossible for the Centre to prevent Sasikala should the AIADMK legislators elect her as a leader. Highly-placed sources in the government point out that a majority of legislators had been showing the same level of obsequiousness to Sasikala, as they had shown to J Jayalalithaa.

File image of VK Sasikala. PTI

File image of VK Sasikala. PTI

"It is the party’s cadre that doesn't support her. Instead she is getting support from MLAs who are keeping her pictures in their pocket," a highly-placed government functionary told Firstpost. Obviously, the Centre does not have any resources at its disposal to check the political culture that characterises Tamil Nadu’s power politics.

However Governor Vidyasagar Rao’s prevarication must be seen in light of the fact that the Centre would not kowtow to Sasikala’s whims and cannot be taken for granted. At the same time, as per the constitutional arrangement, the governor is empowered to appoint the chief minister after satisfying himself about the incumbent’s constitutional suitability and propriety.

Given a slew of cases against Sasikala and the latest PIL raising objections over her suitability to be the chief minister of the state, the Centre does not want to act in a hurry. Insiders in the government point out that even when Jayalalithaa died, there was pressure on the Centre by a section of the bureaucracy and legislators to declare Sasikala as her successor. The governor is believed to have turned down this suggestion from the very beginning and allowed O Panneerselvam to take over the reins.

What appears to have particularly irked loyalists of Sasikala was the income tax raid at the residence of ex-Tamil Nadu chief secretary P Rama Mohan Rao and the recovery of unaccounted cash. Rao was considered to be close to Sasikala. This was seen by Sasikala loyalists as a clever move by the Centre to run Tamil Nadu by installing Panneerselvam who does not enjoy a stature of his own in Tamil Nadu politics.

However the latest turn of events clearly indicate that Sasikala enjoys the support of a majority of AIADMK legislators who favour her to take over as the chief minister. And strictly in legal terms,  her appointment as the chief minister may be delayed, but not stalled.

And the Centre is unlikely to fight this untenable battle.

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Updated Date: Feb 07, 2017 11:22:41 IST

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