“Who is Palanisami?”
The remark sums up the mood in caretaker chief minister O Panneerselvam’s camp as the news of Tamil Nadu governor C Vidyasagar Rao inviting Edappadi Palanisami to form the government trickled in.
“Palanisami was anointed by Sasikala. What sort of legitimacy is this?” said S Moorthy, a 40-year-old AIADMK supporter from Panneerselvam’s home constituency of Bodinayakannur.
He is among many people flocking the residence of Panneerselvam ever since he rose in revolt against party chief VK Saiskala.
One of them even tried to immolate himself, dejected that his leader had lost out to a Sasikala pick.
Saiskala surrendered on Wednesday to serve four years in a corruption case but not before pushing Palanisami’s name for the job that she was hoping to get.
At around 1:30pm, Panneerselvam, flanked by associates E Madhusudhanan and C Ponnaiyin, addressed media at his Greenways Road residence, saying “the fight for the CM’s post is not over yet.”
“We must come together to stop this family taking over the party and government,” he said. Sasikala named nephew TTV Dinakaran’s as deputy general secretary of the AIADMK. Sasikala is the general secretary.
Palanisami who will be sworn in as the chief minister at 4.30pm Thursday has 15 days to prove his majority.
And, that could be tricky though he claims support of 124 MLAs in the 234-member Tamil Nadu House.
Panneerselvam aide Maithreyan, who is a member of Parliament, was to meet the election commission and challenge Sasikala’s appointment as the party general secretary.
Sasikala’s election was in contravention of the rules and bylaws framed by party founder MG Ramachandran, who said he did not want a situation where a leader could be thrown out by a few members, AIADMK leader KC Palaniswamy told HT.
The leader must be elected by cadres (now totaling some 14 million) and not by few MLAs sitting in a room, he said.
Party bylaws make Sasikala ineligible to be the general secretary as the holder should be a party member for at least five years. Sasikala was kicked out of the party in 2011 and brought back the next year, so she hasn’t completed five years in the party yet.
She never held a party position but her 30-year association with late chief minister J Jayalalithaa saw her being named to the top post.
If EC strikes down Sasikala’s appointment, all party appointments made by her will stand cancelled.
While the decision will have no bearing on Palanisami’s elevation, it will provide more ammunition to the Panneerselvam camp, which enjoys widespread public support.