TN battle for Jaya’s legacy: Will Governor Vidyasagar be another Ramlal?

Hyderabad: Tamil Nadu is once again engulfed in a battle for political legacy after nearly three decades. While a similar political war raged after the death of then chief minister and founder president of AIADMK MG Ramachandran in 1988, similar drama is unfolding now in 2017 after the death of Chief Minister Jayalalithaa .

In 1988, it was a battle for political legacy of MGR after his death between his wife Janaki Ramachandran and his political protégé Jayalalithaa. Now, a war is raging for the political legacy of Amma (Jayalaithaa) between her close aide Sasikala Natarajan, known as Chinnamma, and Jaya’s unstinted loyalist O. Panneerselvam.

Incidentally, in this political drama that is being witnessed in Tamil Nadu, the role of acting Governor Ch. Vidyasagar Rao is going to seal the fate of either the present incumbent Chief Minister Panneerselvam or the CM aspirant Sasikala.

Thus Governor Vidyasagar Rao has a crucial role to play in resolving the political crisis that is brewing in the Tamil State. However, at the same time, the big question is whether Vidyasagar Rao too would play the role of the then Governor of united Andhra Pradesh Ramlal who earned the dubious distinction of “murdering democracy” by unseating TDP supremo NT Rama Rao and appointing Nadendla Bhaskar Rao as Chief Minister in 1984 though the former had the support of a majority of legislators.

As a matter of fact,  almost all the Opposition leaders of the time – AB Vajpayee,  HN Bahuguna, Farooq Abdullah, Sharad Pawar and  leaders of both the Left parties — had extended their full support to NTR and accused Governor Ramlal of “murdering democracy”.

 Not to be forgotten was the role Nara Chandrababu Naidu, son-in-law of NTR who was only holding the post of AP Karshak Parishat Chief, played. He kept the flock of TDP MLAs together by confining them to a hotel and later took them on a holiday to Nandagiri Hills in Karnataka State. Later, all the TDP MLAs were taken to New Delhi and paraded before the then President of India Giani Zail Singh to prove that NTR had sufficient majority of MLAs and still he was unseated by Governor Ramlal to facilitate Nadendla Bhaskar Rao to become Chief Minister.

Surprisingly,  then Union Home Minister P V Narasimha Rao endorsed the action of Governor Ramlal  by stating that under Article 164 (1) of the Constitution, “the ministers hold office during the pleasure of the Governor”. However, after a nationwide outcry about the role played by Goverrnor Ramlal, he was shunted out and NTR was reinstated as Chief Minister again.

After nearly three decades, a similar drama is unfolding in Tamil Nadu for political legacy and all eyes are now focused on the role to be played by Governor Vidyasagar Rao. Will the BJP leaders at the Centre, who are now being accused of orchestrating Panneerselvam’s revolt against Sasikala, distance themselves from influencing the Governor in the ongoing drama like Vajpayee who had condemned the then Governor Ramlal for ousting NTR?

Interestingly, when MGR passed away after a prolonged illness on December 24, 1987, war broke out between his wife Janaki and his protégé Jayalalithaa for taking over the political legacy of MGR.  Though Janaki won the battle initially and assumed office, her tenure as CM lasted only 24 days. Jayalalithaa who split the MGR’s party later merged it in AIADMK and became the Chief Minister to ultimately become the undisputed political queen of the Tamil State.

Now after her death, once again the battle for the Chief Minister’s post has  begun between Panneerselvam and Sasikala. What is intriguing is, while in 1988 Tamil Nadu witnessed a battle for MGR’s legacy, in 2017 the battle seems to be mainly for the CM’s post in the name of Amma’s legacy.

It is to be seen whether Panneerselvam parades his MLAs before President Pranab Mukherjee, as was done by NTR who paraded the MLAs before the then President Zail Singh. -NSS

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