The Supreme Court’s verdict convicting AIADMK leader VK Sasikala has put her ambitions of becoming the chief minister of Tamil Nadu on hold for a decade, if not more. But, the political developments that followed – including acting chief minister O Panneerselvam’s expulsion from the party and Edapaddi K Palaniswami’s election as leader of the legislative party – show that she is preparing to run the party’s politics from behind the scenes. In the 234-member Tamil Nadu assembly, the AIADMK has 134 MLAs.
Here is a look at the possible scenarios that after her conviction:
1. AIADMK legislators rally around Palanisawi: Even with Panneerselvam revolting against the newly-elected party general secretary, the majority remains in the Sasikala camp, experts say. The Sasikala camp has “simply resurrected another person in her place” to be the leader and prevented the government from falling, said Chennai-based political analyst Prof Ramu Maniannan. Sasikala appears to have the number of MLAs -- at least 120, according to her camp -- that is needed for the AIADMK to stay in power. If the flock stays together, the AIADMK still has four-and-a-half year in government.
2. Governor invites OPS to prove majority first, DMK offers him support: Much depends on governor C Vidayasagar Rao. If he invites Panneerselvam to prove his majority on the floor of the house, the party could see more desertions from the Sasikala camp. “If he is able to garner a third of the MLAs of the AIADMK, the DMK could move in to lend outside support to a government led by OPS. It is here when the governor’s role becomes crucial,” says Maniannan. OPS met Rao on Tuesday, reportedly claiming support of nearly 45 MLAs.
3. Internal negotiations between AIADMK break down, fresh elections: The days of stability for the AIADMK under J Jayalalithaa is a thing of the past. Experts say though this is the least likely scenario, AIADMK legislators could eventually fail to build consensus around Palaniswami. “Their effort right now will be to save the government. But the ship can wreck midway, if not right now,” says Maniannan. If the party splits, this could lead to fresh elections. The DMK, Congress and the BJP are all looking at a fresh churning in the southern state in the post-Jayalalithaa scenario in Tamil Nadu politics.