Tamil Nadu’s acting governor Vidyasagar Rao is expected to reach Chennai on Thursday afternoon in the midst of a political turmoil in the ruling AIADMK that has plunged the state in a governance crisis.
He arrives amid mounting bitterness between caretaker chief minister O Pannerselvam, who has claimed that he was forced to resign, and AIADMK general secretary VK Sasikala, who has claimed the support of an overwhelming majority of party legislators.
Rao — the governor of Maharashtra who holds additional charge of Tamil Nadu — is expected to meet both but experts say an indication of his next move might be in which politician he meets first.
The governor is said to be waiting for instructions from Delhi on the further course of action. “As a governor, he is supposed to act independently. But being a hardcore and disciplined worker of the BJP, he will certainly not go against the wishes of the top leadership in Delhi,” a senior BJP leader close to Rao said.
The dispute has also reached the President’s door with Lok Sabha deputy speaker Thambidurai leading a delegation of party lawmakers to meet Pranab Mukherjee and apprising him of the situation.
The crisis kicked off on Tuesday after Pannerselvam revolted against the party leadership, saying he was pushed out by legislators close to Sasikala. Within hours, the general secretary hit back by removing Pannerselvam as party treasurer and alleging that he was hand-in-glove with the opposition DMK.
Since then, the fight has become uglier with Pannerselvam ordering a judicial probe into the death of former chief minister J Jayalalithaa and asking the banks to not disburse money from party accounts without his approval.
A majority of party MLAs are said to have sided with Sasikala and have been packed off to a luxury resort near Chennai to ward off any threats of poaching.
Many say though Sasikala enjoys the support of a majority of AIADMK legislators, Rao might use his discretion and defer the swearing-in ceremony.
“He might as well wait till the Supreme Court delivers its judgment on the illegal assets case. He will probably act upon legal advice in calling Sasikala for taking oath as the chief minister,” the BJP leader said.