This Article is From Feb 14, 2017

Tamil Nadu Governor Gets A Big Cue From Centre, Supreme Court Verdict Next

Sasikala is controversially holding 127 law-makers from her party at a resort in Chennai.


  • Sasikala and rival Panneerselvam both want to be Chief Minister
  • Supreme Court to rule on corruption case against Sasikala tomorrow
  • Centres advice: determine Chief Minister with composite floor test
Chennai: The Supreme Court is expected to rule today on whether VK Sasikala, who wants to be head Tamil Nadu, conspired in the early 90s with J Jayalalithaa to illicitly acquire a shared fortune - then worth over 60 crores. Ms Jayalalithaa died in December while she was still Chief Minister; O Panneerselvam, a loyalist who had filled in twice for her when she had to take leaves of absence from office because of charges of venality, once again was promoted. In the weeks that followed, the state's ruling party, the AIADMK, appeared to be running smoothly. Gears began grinding a week ago, when Mr Panneerselvam, or OPS as he is known, said he would not allow Ms Sasikala to replace him as Chief Minister, as decided by the party.

Competing claims of who should be Chief Minister have been presented in person by Ms Sasikala and OPS to Governor C Vidyasagar Rao, who has, five days later, not indicated his decision. Sources said on Monday that Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, the Centre's top lawyer, has advised him to order a special session of the legislature for a composite floor test within a week. What this means is that all of Tamil Nadu's 234  lawmakers will meet to decide who has the majority - Ms Sasikala or Mr Panneerselvam - by declaring their support to one of the two candidates with a written signature.

The top court's verdict today will make the Governor's choices a lot clearer. So far, he has indicated that he is not in favour of allowing Ms Sasikala to take oath as Chief Minister before the Supreme Court decides on whether she's guilty of graft. If convicted, she cannot hold public office or contest elections for six years. If acquitted, she can take Tamil Nadu's top job by winning a trust vote, but she must then contest and win an election to the legislature within six months.

In 2014, Ms Jayalalithaa and Ms Sasikala, who was the politician's close aide, were jailed in Bengaluru for accumulating assets worth 60 crores including jewellery and real estate that could not have been purchased with their declared sources of income. They were then acquitted and Ms Jayalalithaa returned to office (reclaiming her post from Mr Panneerselvam, who was happy to oblige). The appeal in the Supreme Court has been made by the Karnataka government which prosecuted the women.

Ms Sasikala is controversially holding 127 lawmakers from her party at a resort in Chennai to prevent them from ditching her in favour of OPS. The MLA camp is on its seventh day, and the police informed the Madras High Court on Monday that despite the allegations of "a hostage crisis" leveled by Team OPS, the legislators have said they are not being held against their wishes. Ms Sasikala deployed new allegations of "betrayer"against OPS, vowing that the party and she, trained by Ms Jayalalithaa who she described as"a lioness", would not be defeated by his invidious scheming. "We have seen 1,000 Panneerselvams," she declared on Monday, dismissing talk of him as a threat to her future or that of her supporters.

Nevertheless, OPS' troupe has been expanding- it now has eight MLAs and 12 parliamentarians. To win a trust vote, Ms Sasikala needs 117 votes. She has 10 more than she needs - not a comfortable margin.