Delay In Swearing-In Intended To Split Party, Says VK Sasikala: 10 Facts

VK Sasikala met AIADMK MLAs today after writing to Tamil Nadu Governor C Vidyasagar Rao.

Highlights

  • VK Sasikala meets lawmakers huddled at resort outside Chennai
  • Had written to Governor earlier today, requesting appointment
  • Sasikala has been challenged by O Panneerselvam for Chief Minister's job
Chennai: The delay in her accession to the post of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister was designed to "create a split" in the ruling AIADMK party, VK Sasikala alleged today, promising to escalate the week-long political crisis that has crippled the state with a "new kind of protest" from tomorrow. The sharp change in her tone came after a meeting with legislators of her party who have been rounded off to a luxury resort with minimal external contact for the last three days in an attempt to prevent them from being influenced by the rival faction led by O Panneerselvam. Mr Panneerselvam had offered his resignation to the Governor last Sunday, stepping aside for Ms Sasikala but only to renege on his decision two days later, saying it had been taken under "duress". The Governor, on his part, is yet to hint what happens next.

Here are the 10 latest developments in this big story:

  1. This morning, Ms Sasikala despatched a letter to Tamil Nadu Governor C Vidyasagar Rao requesting him to immediately meet her and requesting him of expediting her swearing-in.

  2. Later in the afternoon, she drove to the resort near Chennai to meet party lawmakers. Party sources say 127 legislators, including 27 ministers, are present at the resort.

  3. The state education minister K Pandiarajan, one of Ms Sasikala's most staunch supporters, walked over to the Panneerselvam camp this morning and said more lawmakers will switch if given a chance. Later in the evening, senior AIADMK leader C Ponnaiyan also extended his support to Mr Panneerselvam.

  4. Ms Sasikala, the closest confidante of former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa who died in December, in her letter to Governor C Vidyasagar Rao, said "It has been seven long days since" Mr Panneerselvam submitted his resignation, adding, "I believe Your Excellency will act immediately to save the sovereignty of the Constitution, democracy and the interest of the State."

  5. Addressing party workers and leaders at her Poes Garden residence earlier today, Ms Sasikala said, "We can be patient only to an extent. Beyond that, we will do what we need to do."

  6. On Wednesday, Ms Sasikala had staked claim to form government with the support of 129 of the AIADMK's 134 legislators. On Mr Panneerselvam's side, so far, are seven legislators including Mr Pandiarajan. Also in Team Panneerselvam are three parliamentarians.

  7. The Tamil Nadu assembly has 235 members and to be chief minister, a leader has to prove the support of 118 lawmakers.

  8. Mr Panneerselvam's camp has alleged that lawmakers were forced to sign blank sheets which have been misused by Ms Sasikala to show that she has majority support. The 66-year-old, who met the Governor on the same day that Ms Sasikala staked claim, has reportedly sought five days from the Governor to gather support of party lawmakers and stake claim to be chief minister again. He is holding interim charge after his resignation was accepted.

  9. Two days after he met both leaders, Governor Rao is yet to indicate what his next step will be. His office denied reports last night that he has sent his assessment of the political crisis to the centre.

  10. Sources said the Governor is inclined to wait till the Supreme Court gives verdict in a corruption case against Ms Sasikala, before inviting her to form government as the leader with the majority support. The verdict is expected next week. If found guilty, Ms Sasikala will not be able to hold public office or contest elections.