Panneerselvam or Palani Swamy?
- Move to select Dy CM in TN
Chennai: Tamil Nadu Cabinet had met on Friday at Apollo hospital where Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa has been undergoing treatment for 15 days. The Cabinet is understood to have discussed the future course of action in the wake of the health bulletin issued by the hospital saying that the CM will have to stay for a prolonged period in view of her precarious condition. The Cabinet reportedly decided that a deputy chief minister has to be anointed to run the administration in the absence of Jayalalithaa.
Though Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Jayalalithaa have been on best of terms, the Union Home Ministry is understood to have advised Governor Chennamaneni Vidya Sagar Rao to anoint a person to take care of the governance in the wake of some ISIS activists being arrested recently. The law and order situation in Tamil Nadu has been delicate. The governor who came here from Mumbai last week has been closely monitoring the situation in the State. There have been rumours about Jayalalithaa’s health which might cause emotional outburst by her fans.
Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy had set things in motion on Thursday by tweeting that a spell of president’s rule is needed for Tamil Nadu. He alleged that two retired bureaucrats, Sheela Balakrishnan, former Chief Secretary and present advisor to government, and K Ramanujan, retired DGP, have been carrying on the show, but they are not elected by the people. It is as good as the president’s rule without any responsibility on the decision makers, Swamy said. Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary Ramamohana Rao had met Governor Vidya Sagar Rao at Raj Bhavan on Friday.
There are speculations in party circles to the effect that if the governor insists on electing a deputy chief minister, there may not be any unanimous choice. O Panneerselvam, Finance Minister, is one who has some experience in ruling the State. He was stop-gap chief minister on two occasions in 2001 and 2014 when the courts had ruled that his leader, Jayalalithaa, is barred from holding the office. He ruled the State without occupying the chair of the chief minister keeping it vacant for Jayalalithaa. But OPS, as Panneerselvam is called, will have to reckon with Sasikala who is supposed to be the second most powerful person in AIADMK. They have not been on very good terms. Another leader who can be thought of as an interim arrangement is PWD Minister EK Palani Swamy who was elected MLA for four times. Swamy represented Tamil Nadu last week at the meeting held on Cauvery water dispute with Union Water Resources Minister Uma Bharathi and Karnataka Chief Minister Siddharamaiah. Rajya Sabha Member R Vaithilingam and Minister for Power Thangamani also are considered to be in good looks of Jayalalithaa.
However, if we go by the past experience, there may not be any deputy chief minister. In 1984, when MGR was down with kidney problem and neurological issues and stayed at the very same Apollo hospitals for several weeks, no alternative arrangements to run the government were made. Unlike the present AIADMK where Amma is the sole leader and all others are spineless wonders, the AIADMK headed by MGR had at least two leaders who stand tall on their own merit. They were VR Nedunchezhiyan and RM Veerappan. Both of them acted at tandem in governing the State. If the ruling party MLAs are forced to select a deputy chief minister, the tie would be between OPS and Palani Swamy.