The elevation of Sasikala loyalist EK Palaniswami as Tamil Nadu chief minister on Thursday may redefine the relation between the AIADMK-ruled southern state and the Centre, where the BJP-led NDA is in power.
Here are four ways how Palaniswami, if he wins the trust vote in 15 days, can impact politics between Chennai and New Delhi:
1. Palaniswami in the hot seat removes any trace of certainty in the relationship that the NDA government had with the Tamil Nadu government under former AIADMK supremo and chief minister, the late J Jayalalithaa. She, however, had largely backed the economic agenda of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, barring her objection to the goods and services tax (GST).
2. The BJP does not have much at stakes in Tamil Nadu, but it did not want the situation to crystallize in favour of VK Sasikala, who was seen hobnobbing with the Congress. Palaniswami is a Sasikala nominee and it will be difficult for him to step out of her shadows immediately, when the AIADMK general secretary holds a sway over the MLAs.
3. Between O Panneerselvam and Sasikala, the BJP favoured the former. It does not have a direct link with Palaniswami and developing cordial relations with him would be a challenge.
4. Sasikala holds the BJP responsible for putting up roadblocks in her way of becoming the chief minister. If she keeps nursing that grudge, it may upset the BJP’s calculations for the presidential election. Also, it will have a bearing on the government’s strength in the Rajya Sabha, where the ruling NDA does not have the numbers to push through key policies, reforms and bills.