AIADMK leader Edappadi K Palaniswami was sworn in as the chief minister on Thursday, ending a long suspense in the wake of a bitter power struggle in Tamil Nadu’s ruling party. AIADMK general secretary VK Sasikala, 61, watched on television the oath-taking ceremony of her proxy from the Central on Bengaluru’s southern outskirts where she has been lodged after her conviction in a disproportionate assets case. But peace might still be distant dream for the AIADMK. Palaniswami has to prove his government’s majority in a floor test in a fortnight while his predecessor O Panneerselvam has vowed to continue with his fight.
Sasikala — a long-time confidante of former AIADMK supremo and chief minister J Jayalalithaa — had been anointed as the late leader’s successor by the ruling party and was due to be sworn in last week. But she was pulled into a bruising power struggle by Panneerselvam, who alleged he was forced to resign. Since then, he has been backed by several MPs and MLAs who have switched sides but a majority of the party lawmakers is said to be behind Sasikala, who was sent behind the bars by the Supreme Court in the 21-year-old DA case.
DMK legislative party meet convened for evening to discuss strategy on floor test.— K V Lakshmana (@kvlakshman)February 17, 2017
10:10am: Panneerselvam to bank on perceived anger against the new CM. OPS, believed to a popular CM during his tenure, will go on a state-wide tour soon.
10am: Tamil Nadu chief minister Palaniswami is likely to visit Bengaluru and call on Sasikala in prison.
And here’s what happened on Thursday:
* Palaniswami retained almost all the ministers in the Panneerselvam government, barring the ousted chief minister as well as education minister MF Pandiarajan who have rebelled against Sasikala.
* Governor C Vidyasagar Rao administered the oath of office to the chief minister and his 30-member council at a function in which Sasikala’s family members took the front row, leaving no room for guesswork as to where the party leaders draw their strength from.
* The governor invited Palaniswami to form the government after he presented a list of 124 AIADMK lawmakers supporting him. The new chief minister will have to take a floor test in the assembly in a fortnight to prove that he enjoys support of the majority of legislators. The AIADMK posted on its Twitter handle that the trust vote will be held on Saturday.
* Until then the MLAs would remain at Golden Bay resort at Kuvathur, 80km from Chennai, where they have been staying since Sasikala corralled them there last Wednesday night to stop them from switching loyalties.
(With agency inputs)