Sasikala loyalist Palanisami is TN CM

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Edappadi K Palanisami, a VK Sasikala loyalist, was sworn-in as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu on Thursday, ending the 10-day political uncertainty in the state, which began with caretaker CM O Panneerselvam’s revolt against the AIADMK general secretary. Governor C Vidyasagar Rao administered the oath of office and secrecy to 63-year-old Palanisami, a party veteran from western Tamil Nadu, as the head of a 31-member Cabinet at a ceremony in the Raj Bhavan.

He has 15 days to prove his majority in the 234-member Tamil Nadu Assembly. “I wish to say that Amma’s (Jayalalithaa) government will continue by me proving majority in the Assembly,” he told reporters in his first media interaction after taking over as the new CM. Among others, Palanisami will hold the portfolios of Home and Finance, besides Public Works, Highways and Minor Ports, which he had managed as a minister in the Jayalalithaa and Panneerselvam cabinets. The new CM has retained most of the ministers from outgoing CM O Panneerselvam’s cabinet. The ministers were sworn-in in batches.

Later, Palanisami visited the memorials of party founder MG Ramachandran and Jayalalithaa where he paid floral tributes. As a mark of reverence, Palanisami prostrated at Jayalalithaa’s memorial. He was accompanied among others by AIADMK deputy general secretary and Sasikala’s nephew TTV Dinakaran.

Palanisami is the third AIADMK leader to be sworn-in as chief minister in the last nine months. AIDMK supremo and chief minister J Jayalalithaa had powered the party to a rare successive term in office in the state in the May 2016 Assembly polls. She continued in the post through her grim 74-day battle for life.

Within hours of her death on December 5, Panneerselvam, who had filled in for Jayalalithaa twice in the past when she had to go to jail in corruption cases, was sworn-in as chief minister. Panneerselvam later stepped down, paving the way for Sasikala, who was already chosen AIADMK general secretary, to be elected its legislature party leader on February 5. However, the usually reticent Man Friday of Jayalalithaa rose in rebellion against Sasikala two days later, claiming he was coerced into resigning. He even expressed willingness to become chief minister again if the people of Tamil Nadu and AIADMK workers so desired. His belligerence plunged the state into a political crisis.

Amid the face off with Panneerselvam, Sasikala met Governor Rao on February 9 and staked claim to form the government. Notwithstanding criticism from several quarters, Rao preferred to wait and watch as the political tug-of-war played out between the rival AIADMK factions.

He stood vindicated when Sasikala and two members of her family were convicted and their sentences restored by the Supreme Court in a disproportionate assets case on February 14, rendering her ineligible for contesting elections for 10 years and dashing her hopes of becoming the Chief Minister.

Sasikala then handpicked her loyalist Palanisami, who was elected AIADMK legislature party leader, and staked claim to form the government on Tuesday. Palanisami was invited by the Governor on Thursday to form the government after he submitted a list of 124 MLAs supporting him on Wednesday night.

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