Racing against time, chief minister O Panneerselvam on Thursday took a raft of decisions targeted at his likely successor VK Sasikala, adding to the political chaos in Tamil Nadu.
Governor C Vidyasagar Rao will be back in Chennai in the evening. Sasikala is to meet him at around 7.30pm when she is expected to stake claim to form the government. Rao met the CM first at around 5pm.
Panneerselavam started the day by turning off the cash tap. In a letter, he told Bank of India not allow money to be withdrawn from the AIADMK’s accounts without his consent as he was still the party treasurer, sources said.
He challenged his dismissal from the position, saying Sasikala’s election as the party general secretary was invalid, so were all her decisions.
“She has no power to sack me,” he said.
He followed it up with the announcement of turning Veda Nilayam, the residence of his predecessor J Jayalalithaa, into a memorial.
The bungalow in Poes Garden, a tony neighbourhood of Chennai, was bought by Jayalalithaa when she was a film actor and had not joined politics.
Sasikala continues to live in the house where she spent many years as Jayalalithaa’s closest confidante.
Sasikala’s supporters have threatened to challenge the decision, saying the residence was not a government property.
A notice for Sasikala’s eviction could be issued, sources close to Panneerselvam said, claiming she presented a fake will of the late chief minister.
Panneerselvam, who surprised everyone by rising in revolt against the CM-designate, might also transfer Chennai’s top police officer, sources said.
He was unhappy with commissioner S George for refusing to register a complaint on the manner in which MLAs were moved out of the city by the Sasikala camp, sources said.
He told George that four MLAs complained to him that the lawmakers were taken away forcibly, asking the officer to register a complaint but he didn’t oblige.
The CM had an argument with George after the Sasikala camp packed off 130 party MLAs to a beach resort on Wednesday to prevent them from siding with Panneerselvam.
Panneerselvam was expected to take up the matter with Rao, whose consent is needed for the transfer.
Panneerselvam, who was named the chief minister after Jayalalithaa’s death in December, quit on February 5, clearing the way for Sasikala to be picked as the AIADMK legislature party leader, the final step in her elevation to the state’s top job.
The governor accepted his resignation the next day but on February 7, Panneerselvam claimed he was forced to resign and was willing to reconsider his decision. Since then, he has taken several decisions and made as many statements to undermine Sasikala.