Tamil Nadu remained on the edge on day four of the power tussle between VK Sasikala and O Panneerselvam, with the ball still in the court of Tamil Nadu governor Vidyasagar Rao on Friday night.
A day after both VK Sasikala and OPS met the governor separately on Thursday, Sasikala sacked key party figures including senior leader E Madhusudanan, who had defected to O Panneerselvam’s side on Thursday. Another senior leader E Ponnusamy extended his support to the acting Tamil Nadu CM, while a sword in the form of a Supreme Court verdict in the disproportionate assets case due next week is hanging over Sasikala’s head.
Panneerselvam, who was named the chief minister after J Jayalalithaa’s death in December, quit on February 5, clearing the way for Sasikala’s elevation to the state’s top job. The governor accepted his resignation the next day but on Wednesday Panneerselvam revolted, saying he was forced to resign and was willing to reconsider his decision.
Here are the live updates of the events as they happened:
10.42pm: On reports that the governor may not invite VK Sasikala to form the government due to pending court cases, O Panneerselvam says “Please wait and see.”
10.24pm: No report has been sent still from governor C Vidyasagar Rao to the Centre: Raj Bhavan PRO
10.00pm: Tamil Nadu governor may wait till the Supreme court judgment in the disproportionate assets case against AIADMK general secretary VK Sasikala is delivered, before taking a final deicison on her claim to form the government: Sources
9.30pm: Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao sends three-page report to Union home ministry, says “cannot call Sasikala to form the government now”: TV reports
8.30pm: Tami Nadu governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao asks DGP to probe allegations that AIADMK MLAs are being kept against their will at the Golden Bay Resorts on the East Coast Road.
Honourable Governor will safeguard the Democracy- Respected Chinnama— AIADMK (@AIADMKOfficial) February 10, 2017
8.05pm: Senior party leader E Madhusudhanan joins OPS at the press conference, says, “AIADMK was formed as a protest against family politics but now it has gone in family politics. We won’t let that happen. We are waging a dharmic war against family politics.”
7.57pm: Acting CM O Panneerselvam addresses the media outside his Greenways Road-residence. “Jayalalithaa used to often say, this party will stay strong for hundreds and thousands of years. This party is the property of the cadre of AIADMK. No one can hijack it,” says OPS.
7.55pm: I’ve asked them (AIADMK) to call the assembly session soon, bring all the “imprisoned” MLAs and call for a vote. I have submitted a memorandum to the governor regarding establishment of a government in the state: MK Stalin
After Amma’s demise, Panneerselvam took charge and took up the Jallikattu issue. But during protests outside, Jallikattu was happening inside AIADMK: MK Stalin
"We've seen Jallikattu, now are seeing Mallukattu (internal fight) within the AIADMK," says MK Stalin @htTweets— Aditya Iyer (@Theadityaiyer) February 10, 2017
7.50pm: MK Stalin had late Thursday denied of extending any support from outside to the Panneerselvam faction of the AIADMK. After meeting with governor, he says: “I asked for immediate local body elections. They (AIADMK) are not even able to come forward to conduct local body elections.”
Opposition leader in the Tamil Nadu assembly, MK Stalin seeks intervention to ensure democratically/ and constitutionally valid government in place via free fair floor test, without any further loss of time.
In a letter to the governor, Stalin says, “Horse trading in any form has to b prevented&efforts to protect sanctity of Antidefection law has to b undertaken.”
7.35pm: MK Stalin’s meeting ends with the governor at the Raj Bhavan. He tells media: “In the last nine months, no work has happened in Tamil Nadu. I pointed this out to the governor and asked him to take lawful action.”
7.15pm: Navaneethakrishnan, Rajya Sabha MP from Tamil Nadu, says: The AIADMK is under Sasikala’s control. She has got the right to take action against any member violating rules. Madhusudanan’s remark, that he removed her from post of general secretary first, is incorrect.
7.00pm: Opposition DMK executive leader MK Stalin reaches Raj Bhavan with DMK MLA Duraimurugan to meet governor Vidyasagar Rao.
6.30pm: I had removed Sasikala from post of AIADMK general secretary before she removed me from the party. Now, we will be name a team soon that will work to save Amma’s property and the party’s property: E Madhusudanan
6.25pm: Acting chief minister O Panneerselvam and senior AIADMK leader E Madhusudanan come out of OPS’ residence on Greenways Road to speak to the media.
“The AIADMK will soon hold elections for the post of the general secretary and the cadre will decide who should lead the party. As per MGR, only cadre can decide the general secretary. Election date will be announced soon,” Madhusudanan says.
Madras HC Chief Justice SK Kaul to meet Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao at Raj Bhavan shortly @htTweets— Aditya Iyer (@Theadityaiyer) February 10, 2017
6.00pm: VK Sasikala holds meeting with AIADMK MLAs loyal to her at Poes Garden: ANI
5.42pm: Reports of Sasikala holding a meeting via video link with AIADMK MLAs kept at the Golden Bay Resorts
5.35pm: E Ponnusamy, a senior AIADMK leader who backed the acting CM earlier today, says, “Only Panneerselvam can save interests of the people. Governor is an able man, and he will take a sensible decision.”
5.25pm: The rift between the Sasikala and the OPS camp grows, with MLAs from both sides now taking on each other. One AIADMK MLA Kalairajan tells ANI: “If Panneerselvam provokes or hits me, I’ll do same. Amma taught us to do namaskar with hands, but they can be used in other ways too.”
I’m not threatening Panneerselvam, but if he touches us, we will reply too. The AIADMK headquarters and the Poes Garden come under my district area, so I have all the rights to do so: Kalairajan, MLA of the Theagaraya Nagar assembly constituency.
On AIADMK presidium chairman E Madhusudanan, Kalairajan says, “He’s an absent-minded person. He doesn’t know what he’s speaking now and what he’ll speak later.”
5.14pm: For past one week, AIADMK MLAs have been missing from their constituencies. It is creating hindrance in developmental activites. Since people-friendly work has stopped reaching the locals, I submitted a petition to find out where these MLAs are, says AIADMK’s Srinivasan, who filed the petition for knowing the whereabouts of the MLAs.
4:50pm: As the situation spirals towards a stalemate, TV channels say the DGP has told the governor claims of AIADMK MLAs being held hostage are false.
Meanwhile, visuals on TV show a few lawmakers stepping out of the resorts.
4:10pm: According to reports, Tamil Nadu governor Vidyasagar Rao has intervened in the tussle and summoned the DGP over claims that lawmakers have been held “hostage” by Sasikala and her aides.
4:05pm: Both camps exchange barbs over MLAs being held at the resorts. While several lawmakers from the Sasikala camp have asserted that they aren’t staying against their consent, the Panneerselvam camp claims police commissioner S George refused to take down their complaint and have instead approached the governor.
3:40pm: India Today quotes a Supreme Court lawyer slamming the governor for delaying the swearing-in of a chief minister. The lawyer says there is no constitutional crisis in Tamil Nadu.
3:30pm: As the AIADMK leadership tussle continues, Tamil Nadu Congress is quoted by a TV channel, saying that “Rahul Gandhi is closely watching developments” but the party will not intervene.
Another report says the Madras high court noted on Friday that it a serious matter if the MLAs have been refusing food and are held captive.
3:05pm: Opposition leader Stalin says DMK is against President’s Rule in Tamil Nadu, according to TV reports.
Former TN governor K Rosaiah tells PTI on Friday Rao doesn’t necessarily need to take into consideration Sasikala’s claim that she has the support of a majority to invite for forming the government.
3pm: After MLAs families’ approached court, Tamil Nadu DGP Rajendran directs district superintendent to search the Golden Bay resort, the ECR hotel -- where the 130 AIADMK lawmakers have been holed up by the Sasikala camp.
2:30pm: MLA Ramalingam says the majority supports ‘Chinamma’ Sasikala:
Another AIADMK leader Ratnaswami says the Tamil Nadu governor can call “us anytime, that is why we all have assembled at one place”.
2:24pm: AIADMK spokesperson CR Saraswathi alleges that she was getting threatening phone calls and messages and that she has recorded them. “They are calling me, that have distributed my number on WhatsApp. They say if you don’t support OPS, I should leave the party. My life is in danger.”
She accuses Panneerselvam’s camp of trying to split the party. “It will never happen, all real cadres are here, all loyal to Jayalalithaa are here.” Saraswathi reiterates claim that it is the opposition DMK that was behind Panneerselvam’s revolt.
2:25pm: Madhusudanan responds that no one has the authority to remove him, as Sasikala’s election as AIADMK general secretary itself is flawed.
He writes to the Election Commission, rejecting his expulsion from AIADMK: TV reports
2:20pm: News channels report that an NGO has filed a complaint against Sasikala for grabbing land illegally.
2:15pm: A day after switching sides to the Panneerselvam camp, E Madusudanan has been removed from his post as presidium chairman and from primary membership of AIADMK, the party tweets. KA Sengottayan appointed in his place.
E.Madusudhanan removed from his post as presidium chairman and from primary membership of AIADMK.— AIADMK (@AIADMKOfficial) February 10, 2017
2:00pm: IANS reports that Tamil Nadu police have withdrawn security at the Madras Centenary Hall, where the swearing-in was meant to be take place.
Soon after AIADMK legislators elected Sasikala as the leader of the legislature party, preparatory work for her swearing-in began at the hall and police were deployed. But because of the uncertainty, this has been put on hold.
1:40pm: Six MLAs at Golden Bay resort permitted to speak to media, assert that they were there on their own free will and rubbish talk that they were ‘detained’.
With several habeas corpus petitions filed in the Madras high court on the legislators ‘held’ at the resort, the MLAs met reporters outside to dismiss the rumours. “MLAs cannot be kept hostage. Sasikala is treating us like how Jayalalithaa treated us,” said one of them, Murugumaran.
“We are not birds being kept in a cage,” added another legislator. They accused the DMK of spreading rumours that legislators backing Sasikala were being held hostage.
1:20pm: Another senior AIADMK leader joins Panneerselvam. Extending support to the caretaker chief minister, E Ponnusamy said it was Panneerselvam who was identified by Jayalalithaa as the heir and appealed to other MLAs to join him.
A former PMK leader and a minister of state in the NDA regime during 1999-2001, Ponnusamy had joined AIADMK in 2013 in the presence of Jayalalithaa, reports PTI.
1:15pm: AIADMK presidium chairman E Madhusudanan writes to Election Commission, tells them not to accept Sasikala as general secretary of the party. He defected to Panneerselvam’s camp on Thursday.
12:55pm: Police officers are likely to visit the Golden Bay resort, to where 130 AIADMK MLAs were taken by Sasikala, on Panneerselvam’s orders.
12:45pm: SM Das Pandian, AIADMK MLA came out of the resort, tells a Tamil news channel that no one had taken away their phones and that they had switched it off themselves.
12:30pm: Home minister Rajnath Singh speaks in Uttar Pradesh on the political crisis in Tamil Nadu, says: “Governor is the constitutional head of the state, it is his prerogative to take decisions.” On the demand for a CBI probe into Jayalalithaa’s death, Rajnath said his ministry would consider the demand if it came from the late chief minister’s family.
12:15pm: O Panneerselvam and his supporters speak to reporters. “Only O Panneerselvam can save Tamil Nadu. Only he can take forward Jayalalithaa’s legacy,” a TV channel quotes an MLA as saying.
11:35am: The Madras high court has asked the Tamil Nadu police to file an affidavit on MLAs lodged at a resort outside Chennai. The meeting between the DGP and Tamil Nadu governor is still underway.
11:30am: AIADMK MLA B Valarmathi tells ANI that all MLAs lodged in the resort have willingly switched off their mobile phones as they were getting threatening phone calls.
11:00am: Governor Vidyasagar Rao meets the director general of police TK Rajendran for discussions. Sources told HT that the DGP arrived at Raj Bhavan at 10.40 am. Tamil Nadu chief secretary Girija Vaidyanathan is also understood to be calling on Governor Vidyasagar Rao in a short while.
Tamil Nadu DGP TK Rajendran has been summoned to Raj Bhavan for discussions. Sources: Governor may enquire about MLAs detention at a resort— K V Lakshmana (@kvlakshman) February 10, 2017
10:45am: Supreme Court declines urgent hearing of PIL seeking to restrain VK Sasikala from taking oath as the chief minister till they have made a decision on the disproportionate assets case. The top court is expected to deliver a judgment in the Rs 63 crore DA case next week.
“Sorry. Declined,” a bench comprising Chief Justice J S Khehar and justices NV Ramana and DY Chandrachud said when the lawyer sought urgent listing and hearing.
10:15am: Meeting of Tamil Nadu Congress leaders with Rahul Gandhi underway at his residence, reports ANI. The Congress is keeping a close watch on the developments in the southern state. There is also a divide in the Tamil Nadu Congress over supporting VK Sasikala or O Panneerselvam for the CM’s post.
10:05am: BJP leader Subramanian Swamy says the governor has “woken up to his duties as a constitutional authority”.
“Pannerselvam didn’t give any list of MPs or MLAs who are supporting him. He didn’t stake any claim. He just wants his resignation to be withdrawn. But, it has already been accepted. How can he do this? It’s like putting toothpaste back in the tube,” Swamy told ANI.
10:00am: There are reports coming in that the MLAs, said to be unhappy over being ‘confined’ at a luxury resort where they were brought two days ago, would be broken up into smaller groups and shifted to other locations.
(With agency inputs)