Suspense mounts over Sasikala becoming Tamil Nadu CM, governor defers plan to reach Chennai

Chennai: Suspense mounted on Tuesday over the swearing-in of V K Sasikala as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu with the Governor deferring his plans to go o Chennai, as charges and counter-charges flew thick and fast between AIADMK and rebel leaders over the death of J Jayalalithaa.

In the wake of uncertainty over Governor Vidyasagar Rao's plans, the AIADMK asserted it was the constitutional obligation of the Governor to swear in Sasikala as Chief Minister and that there is no ground for stopping it.

Rao, who is in Mumbai, has no plans to go to Chennai as of now, Raj Bhavan sources in Mumbai said, indicating that he could take a decision on Wednesday. Rao, who is Maharashtra governor, is holding additional charge of Tamil Nadu.

With the Supreme Court expected to deliver its verdict in the disproportionate assets case against Sasikala and others next week, political uncertainty grew as opposition parties attacked the move to elevate her as chief minister and the AIADMK coming out in strong defence of her.

File image of VK Sasikala. PTI

File image of VK Sasikala. PTI

On a day of hectic activities, PH Pandian, a former Speaker of state Assembly, and his son Manoj, a party functionary, stoutly opposed Sasikala being made the chief minister and alleged foul play in the death of Jayalalithaa who was "pushed" at her Poes Garden home during a quarrel that led to her hospitalisation on 22 September.

The AIADMK fielded two of its top leaders Panruti Ramachandran and KA Sengottaiyan at a press conference where they rejected Pandian's allegations and dubbed him as a
"betrayer" who was causing "confusion."

"General Secretary in-charge can be appointed," Ramachandran asserted, stating that Sasikala's elevation was in compliance with party rules and that it was valid.

"The constitutional obligation of the Governor is to swear in Sasikala. There is no ground for stopping it. Nobody can stop it," Ramachandran, who was a minister in the first MGR cabinet, said.

Asked about a PIL opposing swearing in of Sasikala as chief minister, he said the court can dismiss the petition, saying it cannot interfere in the governor's duty.

The press conference at the party headquarters was called to dispel rumours and speculation about Jayalalithaa's death especially in the wake of media interaction of the Pandians.

Pandian claimed that Sasikala's elevation was against party norms, saying she does not have the locus standi to either be the party chief or Chief Minister.

"Sasikala does not deserve to be either the party supremo or the Chief Minister," Pandian told reporters, two days after Sasikala was elected AIADMK Legislature Party leader, paving the way for her becoming the chief minister.

Pandian claimed that within 20 days after the demise of Jayalalithaa on December 5, party leaders were "made to say" that they wanted Sasikala to be the party chief.

Strongly opposing her elevation as AIADMK chief, Pandian said it was against party rules. "Only cadres can elect the general secretary," he said.

"Violating party bylaws, one cannot become general secretary. If it was done, it is not sustainable."

In a fresh twist to the row over the death of Jayalalithaa, Pandian suspected foul play, alleging her demise was unnatural and demanded a probe on her hospitalisation.

Jayalalithaa was admitted to Apollo hospital here on September 22 and passed away on December five after a 75-day battle for her life.

Pandian levelled the allegations while referring to an incident on September 22 at the Poes Garden residence before the AIADMK supremo was hospitalised.

"On the night of September 22, there was a war of words between the people of the house. It was about some happening with the other side's family (Sasikala's family) and Jayalalithaa and she was pushed down. She fell down and she became unconscious," Pandian alleged, adding, "This appeared in the papers next day."

On Pandian raising some suspicions over Jayalalithaa's death, Raamachandran asked "what is the proof? did he show any proof?"

He said only medical doctors were the competent authorities to speak on such issues, adding, "they did not say anything like that (indicating suspicious death)."

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Updated Date: Feb 07, 2017 20:22:49 IST

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