Tamil Nadu finance minister O Panneerselvam shot into prominence once again when acting governor Vidya Sagar Rao allocated him portfolios handled by chief minister J Jayalalithaa, who has been undergoing treatment at Apollo Hospital for three weeks now.
The announcement came by a communiqué from the Raj Bhavan late on Tuesday. The decision was taken under clause (3) of Article 166 of the Constitution of India, it said.
Panneerselvam filled in for Jayalalithaa on two earlier occasions when she was legally unseated for brief periods. The last was when she was convicted in a disproportionate assets case in 2015. He stood-in till the Karnataka high court acquitted her of all charges.
This time however, he will not be sworn in as the chief minister. There will also be no change in designation but Paneerselvam will preside over cabinet meetings.
The communication added that the arrangement was made with Jayalalithaa’s advice and will continue till she is able to resume charge. It also made specific that Jayalalithaa will continue to be the chief minister.
DMK legislative party leader MK Stalin welcomed the decision of the governor.
The Raj Bhavan stepped in after the Opposition sought clarity on who was in charge of the state after she became indisposed. Last Friday, the governor also summoned the chief secretary and two senior ministers to get a briefing on administrative arrangements in the state.
The governor’s decision on Tuesday comes a day before Union finance minister Arun Jaitley and BJP national president Amit Shah are to arrive in Chennai to visit Jayalalithaa.
The chief minister was admitted to Apollo Hospital on September 22 and is being attended to by a team of specialists and experts from London and AIIMS in New Delhi.