Sasikala Loyalist Palaniswami Becomes New Tamil Nadu Chief Minister

The Governor heard competing pitches on Wednesday night from within the ruling party of the state over who should be the chief minister after the conviction of AIADMK general secretary VK Sasikala in connection with a 19-year old disproportionate assets case.

Sasikala, 61, whose rise in politics has stunned everyone in Tamil Nadu, appointed Edappadi K Palanisamy as leader of the state assembly and expelled Panneerselvam. The Supreme Court bench of Justice Amitava Roy and Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose, in upholding the lower court's verdict and setting aside the Karnataka High Court judgement sentenced former chief minister J. Jayalalithaa's confidante and closest associate Sasikala to four years imprisonment.

When Jayalalithaa died on December 5, there were reports that Palanisamy opposed Panneerselvam's nomination as chief minister.

"Now with a 15-day window being given, certainly there are chances of big time horse trading happening for the goal of proving strength in the Assembly", he said.

"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 Chief Minister of the State.

The governor heard competing pitches from both camps and made a decision to invite Mr. Palanisami to form the government after he concluded that Mr Panneerselvam did not command a majority in the House.

"If she has a plan B-projecting somebody else for the post of Chief Minister, she - will not succeed", Palaniswamy said. Police presence has been stepped up at the resort. His conduct had come under severe criticism from the supporters of Sasikala and members of the Congress party who alleged that the Governor was acting at the behest of the BJP government at the centre, which has been looking for a toehold in Tamilnadu.

Senior advocate KTS Tulsi, appearing for Sasikala, said that the leader wanted some time to surrender as she has to manage her affairs. The verdict dashed her hope of becoming the chief minister.

Edapaddi Palanisami took over as the 13th chief minister of Tamil Nadu on Thursday.

Sasikala's conviction and the tug of war between her and Panneerselvam have heightened the political turmoil in the state.

The verdict derails Sasikala's political ambitions, which soared after Jayalalithaa's death. Since then, he has been backed by several MPs and MLAs who have switched sides but a majority of the party lawmakers is said to be behind Sasikala. Had Jayalalithaa been alive, she would have had to not just resign but contemplate the validity of an electoral mandate that did not factor in her culpability in amassing illegal wealth.

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