‘Man Friday’ Panneerselvam given Jaya’s portfolios
Chennai: Tamil Nadu Finance Minister O Panneerselvam is Man Friday for AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa. For the third time in Jayalalithaa’s political career as chief minister, Panneerselvam has become a stand-in; this time due to her prolonged illness.
In September 2001, when the apex court had disqualified Jayalalithaa in the Tansi land scam, Panneerselvam had been the interim CM for six months. Again, in September 2014, he was the man to be called in when a Bangalore court sentenced Jayalalithaa to four years in jail in a corruption case. Now, Panneerselvam has once again come out of shadows to preside over Tamil Nadu administration.
Not to be missed in his temporary elevation thrice is the month –September – that is coincidentally destine. Since Chief Minister Jayalalithaa was admitted to Apollo Hospital in Chennai on September 22, DMK and other parties have been demanding an interim chief minister. With “respiratory support” still continuing and the actual medical condition is not clearly known, calls have become shriller for another minister to take over her responsibilities. The ruling party AIDMK had managed to dodge the issue until Tuesday when the Tamil Nadu Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao allocated Jayalalithaa’s portfolios to Panneerselvam. However, it doesn’t mean he is the pro tem CM. Jayalalithaa continues to be the chief minister.
According to a Raj Bhavan press release, “Under Clause (3) of Article 166 of the Constitution of India, the Governor of Tamil Nadu today allocated the subjects hitherto dealt by Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa to O Panneerselvam. He will also preside over cabinet meetings. This arrangement has been made as per the advice of the Chief Minister and will continue until the Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa resumes her duties. Jayalalithaa will continue to be the Chief Minister.”
Political observers compare Panneerselvam to Bharat in the Ramayana. According to the scripture, when Rama went into exile for 14 years, his brother Bharat had kept Rama’s paadukas on the throne and ruled the country. Bharat handed over the reign to Rama once he returned to the kingdom. In Panneerselvam’s case, twice he gave up in-charge status in favour of Jayalalithaa.