Palaniswami stakes claim to form govt.

Updated - November 28, 2021 09:54 pm IST

Published - February 15, 2017 01:55 am IST - CHENNAI:

Edappadi K. Palaniswami

Edappadi K. Palaniswami

Less than an hour after she was convicted in a corruption case, AIADMK interim general secretary V.K. Sasikala on Tuesday put in place a plan of succession by getting PWD Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami elected leader of the AIADMK Legislature Party.

His name was officially proposed by Forest Minister Dindigul C. Srinivasan, and “unanimously” accepted by “at least 120 MLAs” at the Golden Bay Resort in Koovathur in Kancheepuram district. To win a simple majority in the House, he needs the support of 118 MLAs. Ms. Sasikala also expelled 20 leaders of the rival faction, including Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam and School Education Minister ‘Ma Foi’ K. Pandiarajan, from the primary membership of the party.

Armed with the letter declaring his election, Mr. Palaniswami, accompanied by 10 party leaders and Ms. Sasikala’s nephew T.T.V. Dinakaran, met Governor Ch. Vidyasagar Rao at 5.30 p.m. and staked claim to form the next government.

Later in the evening, RS MP V. Maitreyan, among the first to join the OPS camp, met Mr. Rao and submitted a memorandum reportedly claiming that at least 40-45 MLAs were on their side but had backed Mr. Palaniswami under duress. The Governor was examining both claims.

Around 11.10 p.m., Ms. Sasikala, unfazed over her impending imprisonment, spoke to supporters at Veda Nilayam in Poes Garden. “Anna had said that one must have a heart to bear anything. MGR too in his film songs inspired confidence. Amma lived like a lioness. I am like her. Whichever cell they put me in, I will not be deterred and continue to oversee you and the AIADMK,” she declared, even as party presidium chairman K.A. Sengottaiyan and others broke down.

Ms. Sasikala reiterated that at any cost an AIADMK government should be installed and rule Tamil Nadu forever.

“All of you must remain united and serve the people,” she said before going into the house, greeting those around with folded hands.

Earlier, according to sources, soon after the verdict, Ms. Sasikala, who was staying at the resort since Monday night, met the party legislators. “She did not appear disturbed. She was composed while talking to us. Chinnamma [Sasikala] kept on emphasising the need for maintaining unity within the party. Then she introduced Mr. Palaniswami as her choice to head the next government and said that he would certainly take care of their concerns,” said a legislator. “She sought cooperation for his candidature and those around agreed,” according to another leader.

By choosing Mr. Palaniswami as the new leader of the AIADMK Legislature Party, she sought to consolidate the party’s strength in the western belt of the State and among Gounders, one of the major communities in Tamil Nadu.

The development has also given an impression that the balance of power within the AIADMK does not appear lopsided. Known to be a traditional stronghold of the AIADMK, the western districts — Krishnagiri, Dharmapuri, Salem, Namakkal, Tirupur, Coimbatore, Erode and The Nilgiris — provided 45 seats to the AIADMK out of a total of 57 seats in the 2016 Assembly elections.

( With inputs from S. Vijay Kumar )

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