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Palanisamy getting the letter of appointment from the state governor
Palanisamy getting the letter of appointment from the state governor

Tamil Nadu Governor C Vidyasagar Rao on Thursday appointed Edappadi K Palaniswami as chief minister. The Governor invited him to form the ministry at the earliest. The governor requested the chief minister-designate to seek the vote confidence of the assembly within 15 days.

His appointment is in acceptance of the “letter of submitted by Palaniswami on Tuesday that he was elected as the leader of the AIADMK legislature party at a meeting of the party MLAs held on that day,” a Raj Bhavan press note said.

Rao conveyed his decision to Palaniswami when the latter visited Raj Bhavan at 11.30am, along with party presidium chairman K A Sengottaiyan and senior ministers Dindigul C Sreenivasan and P Thangamani.  Palaniswami has claimed that he has the support of 124 legislators, while the O Pannerselvam camp had that of only 10.

Palaniswami, the strongman of Salem district, was chosen as the legislature party leader on Tuesday, hours after Supreme Court upheld the Bengaluru special court verdict convicting AIADMK interim general secretary V K Sasikala in the disproportionate assets case.

“His name was proposed by none other than Sasikala herself,” said a senior leader. alaniswami has the strong backing of Sasikala. Sasikala had preferred Edappadi to Panneerselvam to take over the reins of the government soon after Jayalalaithaa’s demise. But Panneerselvam won the race with the Centre’s backing, sources had confirmed.

The Jayalalithaa loyalist, Palaniswami rose in ranks, apparently due to his proximity to Sasikala clan.  Palanisamy later took oath as Tamil Nadu Chief Minister along with 31 other AIADMK MLAs. Meanwhile, the AIADMK said that Palanisamy will seek the vote of confidence on February 18.

The Governor had earlier asked Palanisamy to seek vote of confidence in 15 days, the Raj Bhawan said in a statement. Palanisamy, along with Tamil Nadu ministers Jayakumar, K.A. Sengottaiyan, S. P. Velumani, T. T. Dinakaran and K. P. Anbazhagan met the Governor earlier in the day. The Governor heard competing pitches last night from within the ruling party of the state over who should be the Chief Minister.

The Governor first met Palanisamy, who claimed to have the support of 125 legislators and then he met O. Panneerselvam, who claimed to have the support of 11 MLAs. On the basis of majority of MLAs the Governor appointed Palanisamy as the Chief Minister of the state.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday congratulated newly appointed Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palanisamy. “Spoke to Thiru Edappadi K. Palaniswami & congratulated him on taking over as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu,” the Prime Minister tweeted.

With the Governor inviting Palaniswami to take oath, the 10-day long political show in the southern state seems to be over. However, observers believe there’s more in store. What will be Panneerselvam’s next move?

Can the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) use the volatile political situation in Tamil Nadu to prepare its base in the state ahead of 2019 general elections?

When Panneerselvam’s stunning revolt against Sasikala made headlines many believed he had the backing of the party ruling at the Centre. Reports said the BJP may also try and convince Superstar Rajinikanth to float a new political outfit to take advantage of the vacuum created by Jayalalithaa’s sudden demise.

So, is the BJP really thinking to rope in Rajinikanth? Party president Amit Shah, who is credited for BJP’s spectacular win in 2014, refused to give a clear answer while denying any role in Tamil Nadu political crisis.

“As far as Tamil Nadu is concerned we have no role to play. This is AIADMK’s internal matter. I don’t think there is any instability in Tamil Nadu. What Panneerselvam is doing is his business, the BJP has nothing to do with it,” Amit Shah said in an exclusive interview.

There are rumours of the BJP using Rajinikanth to launch a new party
There are rumours of the BJP using Rajinikanth to launch a new party

“You are looking for a headline… I won’t give you one now. Just wait for what happens ahead,” said Amit Shah with a smile.

Amit Shah may have stopped short of revealing his cards at the moment but the BJP is certainly working on a plan to prepare a solid ground for itself ahead of the  crucial 2019 Lok Sabha polls. And Rajinikanth could be the gamechanger for the saffron party. What will happen next? The show continues.

Now, as the political drama in Tamil Nadu came to a temporary halt on Thursday as Governor C Vidyasagar Rao finally decided to call Sasikala loyalist E Palanisamy to prove his majority in the state assembly. In the past three months, the state has seen everything — from mystery surrounding the death of a popular chief minister J Jayalalithaa to midnight swearingin of O Panneerselvam as chief minister and, lately, the number game that followed her death on December 5, 2016. All these events may sound dramatic, but there is nothing wrong in what all has happened so far. If anything, this is what the convention of democracy demands.

Democracy thrives in numbers. For instance, O Panneerselvam, who served as a standby CM for Tamil Nadu when Jayalalithaa was not able to continue owing to legal hurdles, may have won hearts for his work during the Jallikattu protests and managing the Vardha Cyclone. But then he was a stopgap arrangement even after the death of the AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa. He had to face this situation sooner or later. He should have ensured numbers before revolting against Sasikala, who claimed the support of 124 MLAs. An astute politician always guns for numbers and does not get carried away by emotions. Seeing support from people on emotive issues like Jallikattu, Panneerselvam seems to have gotten carried away by emotions rather than reasons.

Had he waited for 15 more days, Panneerselvam may have been the chief minister for the full term. Added to that, he had a mass support apart from the strong backing from several MPs of the AIADMK.

Governor Vidyasagar Rao’s silence was golden. His delay and the subsequent Supreme Court verdict on Sasikala wealth case ultimately made the situation crystal clear. With 124 MLAs in the Sasikala camp, the Governor had to choose Edappadi Palanisamy as Tamil Nadu’s next chief minister.

Numbers and nothing else matters in democracy. The acceptance of this fact that whosoever gets most number of votes wins the race is the lifeblood of democracy. This may be a drag but since we don’t have any better option, we must respect it and get ahead. Palanisamy has been sworn in as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu with 30 other ministers. Let’s congratulate Edappadi Palanisamy for his new role and hope the rule of law prevails over everything. Long live democracy.