The prospects of AIADMK general secretary VK Sasikala’s immediate swearing-in as Tamil Nadu Chief Minister appeared remote on Monday night with Governor C Vidyasagar Rao headed for Mumbai from New Delhi and not to Chennai.
The fast-paced developments came on a day the state government organised a press conference by a team of medical experts that had treated the late CM J Jayalalithaa to dispel rumours surrounding her death. Soon after this, reports came in that the AIADMK was busy sprucing up the Madras University centenary hall for Sasikala’s swearing-in.
While the timing of all this raised eyebrows, there were also the legal challenges confronting the Sasikala succession plan.
Amid reports that governor Rao was seeking legal advice before administering the oath of office to Sasikala, Maharashtra Raj Bhavan sources said he was arriving in Mumbai on Monday night.
AIADMK spokesperson CR Saraswathi told Hindustan Times that “we have not yet heard from the governor about swearing in. The party had submitted the documents to the governor and is yet to get time from him”. All that has appeared in media about swearing in Tuesday morning is all speculation, she added.
There was, however, no official word on what exactly the governor was planning to do after the Supreme Court on Monday indicated it could deliver a judgment soon in a disproportionate assets case against Sasikala. Late CM Jayalalithaa is also an accused in the case.
A conviction after being sworn in would result in Sasikala having to step down as chief minister.
A PIL was also filed in the Supreme Court on Monday seeking to restrain Sasikala from being sworn-in as chief minister with the petitioner arguing her resignation in case of a conviction in the DA case could lead to law and order problem in the state.
Governor Rao had travelled from Coimbatore to the national capital Sunday night after Sasikala was elected leader of the AIADMK legislature party, clearing the decks for her elevation as the chief minister.
Chief minister O Panneerselvam tendered his resignation and those of his ministers to Governor Rao which were accepted.
Meanwhile, the timing of Monday’s press conference by the team of doctors that treated Jaya, to dispel rumours surrounding her death, has raised eyebrows.
The battery of doctors, including London medical specialist Dr Richard Beale, that had treated the late CM from the time she was hospitalised on September 22 last year, answered pointed questions from the media.
While the three doctors insisted that the conference was to quell rumours and based on the travel schedule of Dr Beale, others have questioned its timing.
Dr Balaji confirmed that the Apollo hospital team gave a daily debriefing to a team including Sasikala, the chief health secretary, and AIADMK leader Thambidurai.
Becoming the chief minister, barely over two months after the demise of her mentor may seem easier for Sasikala but stepping into the political shoes of Amma could pose a tough challenge.
(With agency inputs)