Law of the land: Sasikala can be chief minister if Rabri Devi could | opinion | Hindustan Times
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Law of the land: Sasikala can be chief minister if Rabri Devi could

The provisions according to eminent constitutional expert Sudhir Krishnawamy, professor and director of the School of Policy and Governance, Azim Premji University, are that the chief ministerial candidate should be recommended by the outgoing chief minister and enjoy the confidence of the cabinet. O Panneerselvam has, while resigning as chief minister, recommended that Sasikala be nominated as the chief minister.

opinion Updated: Feb 14, 2017 07:14 IST
Subhash Rai
VK Sasikala will take over as new chief minister of Tamil Nadu.
VK Sasikala will take over as new chief minister of Tamil Nadu.(PTI File Photo)

If I had my way, Sasikala Natarajan would not be able to get anywhere close to Fort St. George. Forget the seat of Tamil Nadu’s government, she would not even get close to Veda Nilayam in the plush Poes Garden of Chennai. She and the “Mannargudi mafia” would have had to settle for “moffusil” Mannargudi.

Fortunately for this country, the personal opinion of journalists, or rappers for that matter, does not make a person either eligible or ineligible to be the head of a state government. We, the people of India, have given ourselves a robust Constitution. And, according to that Constitution as well as convention, just two criteria are required to make a person eligible to head a government.

The provisions according to eminent constitutional expert Sudhir Krishnawamy, professor and director of the School of Policy and Governance, Azim Premji University, are that the chief ministerial candidate should be recommended by the outgoing chief minister and enjoy the confidence of the cabinet. O Panneerselvam has, while resigning as chief minister, recommended that Sasikala be nominated as the chief minister.

The other provision is that the candidate should have the confidence of the majority of the legislature party. The AIADMK legislative party has overwhelming reposed faith in the leadership of Sasikala.

These make it incumbent upon the governor of Tamil Nadu, Viday Sagar Rao, to invite Sasikala to take over as chief minister.

However, this move has gone against the grain of popular opinion. The reaction that followed the news of Sasikala becoming the next chief minister of a progressive state like Tamil Nadu has been one of outrage. It is reminiscent of the day Rabri Devi was anointed chief minister of Bihar when her beleaguered husband Lalu Prasad had to resign following an arrest warrant in a corruption case. The circumstances in this case, of course, are completely different.

What is worse for the Dravidian movement is that this is its moment of truth. It is well and truly on its death bed. It is about time for an epitaph.

Sasikala’s antecedents as the owner of a video library, her tumultuous relationship with the late Jayalalithaa and the intrigue that has followed the “Mannargudi mafias’” taking over of Tamil Nadu are clearly things that weigh against her.

And as P Chidambaram conceded, that while it is the prerogative of the AIDMK legislative party to elect its leader, it is also the right of all citizens, especially those of Tamil Nadu, to fight against the “palace coup” underway.

But according to the law, if Rabri Devi could be made chief minister, Sasikala Natarajan can too.

(The author tweets at @onlinejourno. Views expressed are personal.)