Governor keeps state in suspense

With Governor Ch. Vidyasagar Rao reportedly sending a detailed report to the Centre late following successive meetings with Chief Minister O Panneerselvam and AIADMK General Secretary VK Sasikala, the suspense over appointment of the next legislative head of state continues in Tamil Nadu.
AIADMK GS VK Sasikala and CM O Panneerselvam (right) calling on Governor  Ch Vidyasagar Rao
AIADMK GS VK Sasikala and CM O Panneerselvam (right) calling on Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao

Chennai

Sasikala who had been elected as the leader of the AIADMK legislature party a few days ago, called on the Governor at Raj Bhavan at 7.30 pm to stake her claim to form a government with the support of her party MLAs. 
During a 40-minute interaction with Rao, Sasikala presented the document certifying her election as the leader of the AIADMK legislature party and sought the Governor to invite her to form a new government under her leadership. 
Senior ministers, AIADMK leaders and other prominent functionaries were present at the meeting, according to a release. Sources said that against the background of revolt by Panneerselvam, who has the support of a few MLAs, Sasikala has also reportedly submitted individual letters of support furnished by AIADMK legislators. 
However, it is unsure if Sasikala had submitted the letters of support collected from 134 MLAs at the February 5 meeting or the one held at the party office on Wednesday when three MLAs, including OPS, had already raised the banner of revolt. No official word is out yet from Raj Bhavan. Earlier during the day at 5 pm, Chief Minister O Panneerselvam called on the Governor and discussed the current political situation. 
Panneerselvam arrived on time accompanied by former speaker PH Pandian, his son and former MP Manoj Pandian, former state ministers Natham R. Viswanathan, KP Munusamy and Maitreyan and held a 15-minute meeting with him. He left the Raj Bhavan at 5.15 pm. 
“Only good will happen. Dharmam will win again,” said Panneerselvam at his Greenways road residence soon after he reached there from his meeting with the Governor. Flanked by AIADMK presidium chairperson E Madhusoondanan, former minister KP Munusamy and former MP Dr. V. Maitreyanm, he uttered these words and raising both hands above his head, went back inside. Earlier during the day, Srivaikundam MLA Shanmughanathan joined OPS camp and swore allegiance to Panneerselvam.
ACTION PACKED DAY
  • AIADMK presidium chairman E Madhusoodanan defects to the OPS group
  • AIADMK general secretary V K Sasikala expels party’s Puducherry leader Om Sakthi Segar from the primary membership for alleged anti-party activities after he reportedly extended support to caretaker Panneerselvam  
  • Irate over this move, the Nellithoppe party functionaries resigned en masse and burnt the effigy of Sasikala.  
  • AIADMK Puducherry doctor’s wing secretary Dr Nannian resigns from post, extends support to Panneerselvam
  • He later dissolved the doctors’ wing of the party in the Union Territory
  • OPS holds 15-minute meeting with Governor CH Vidhyasagar Rao from 5 pm
  • Says ‘only good will happen. Dharmam will win again’
  • Panneerselvam says late chief minister Jayalalithaa’s residence ‘Veda Nilayam’ at Poes Garden would be converted into a memorial
  • AIADMK general secretary VK Sasikala pays homage at the Jayalalithaa memorial on Marina beach
  • Sasikala holds  30 minute meeting with Governor at 7.30 pm
Sasikala group sends ‘feelers’ to Congress
AIADMK general secretary Sasikala’s camp has allegedly examined the possibility of even mustering support of MLAs outside the AIADMK. 
Grapevine has it that Sasikala group has sent feelers to the TN Congress party to seek the support of its eight MLAs in the event of not being able to secure the magical number 117 ahead of the floor test. A senior Congress leader requesting anonymity said that an influential member of Sasikala group has been in touch with at least two very senior Congress leaders in the state. 
The leader, who claimed that AIADMK’s invitation of support has been sent to the AICC high command said that one of the two senior leaders Poes Garden had got in touch with was known for his close association with one of Sasikala’s brothers. 
The rumours could not be easily dismissed as unfounded considering the bonhomie between incum-bent state Congress chief Su Thirunavukkarasar and Sasikala’s spouse M Natarajan who had established a crucial link with Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi who had visited the city twice, including the visit to Marina for former chief minister J Jayalalithaa’s funeral. 
Rumours of the backdoor negotiation has created a buzz amid reports suggesting that the AIADMK general secretary (in charge) might be a few seats short of the simple majority (117 seats), contrary to their claims that nearly 130 members were backing Sasikala’s bid for CMO. Reliable government sources said Sasikala had the support of around 110 MLAs only and hence the attempt to make up for the shortfall with Congress support. 
However, the national party’s ally Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), which caught wind of the negotiation got its friends in Congress to pressurise the AICC high command to decline AIADMK’s request by citing the ensuing 2019 Lok Sabha poll. 
Congress sources also confirmed that Puducherry Chief Minister Narayanasamy has camped in New Delhi only to persuade the high command to not concede to AIADMK’s request. Even former union minister P Chidambaram had already made his anti-Sasikala stand known by making a veiled attack on Sasikala’s ascension.

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