Within hours of the Supreme Court pronouncing AIADMK general secretary V K Sasikala guilty in the disproportionate assets case, a section of the party MLAs elected Edappadi K Palanisamy as the legislature leader at an emergency meeting convened at Golden Bay resort in Kuvathur. Sasikala expelled caretaker Chief Minister O Panneerselvam from the party by removing him from the primary membership of AIADMK. “All MLAs have elected me as the legislature party leader, soon will meet Governor with support letter of MLAs,” Palanisamy said.
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The Sasikala camp wrote to Governor C Vidyasagar Rao seeking his appointment at the earliest. Palanisamy is likely to meet the governor today and stake claim to form the government. However, things could quickly change as a team headed by Panneerselvam and education minister Pandiarajan will visit Kuvathur and seek the support of the remaining MLAs. Reacting to the apex court verdict in the DA case, Panneerselvam said: “Unfinished task left over by Amma must be fulfilled, therefore I urge AIADMK MLAs and ministers to resume their work.”
At the moment, 9 AIADMK MLAs and 12 MPs have switched sides and joined the Pannerselvam camp. But nearly 125 AIADMK MLAs have signed affidavits in support of the newly anointed legislature leader Palanisamy. It could still boil down to a floor test if Vidyasagar asks Palanisamy to prove his majority in the Tamil Nadu Assembly. The halfway mark for attaining majority is 118 in the 235 seats House.
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Edappadi was elected as the MLA in AIADMK ticket for at least four times since 1989 had also served as the minister of Tamil Nadu. Hailing from Edappadi in Salem district, which lies in the Kongu Belt of Tamil Nadu, known for its powerful representation of Gounder community and a strong hold of AIADMK, is a politician known for his loyalty for both late J Jayalalithaa and Sasikala. Among Jayalalithaa’s favourite leaders including Panneerselvam, Edappaddi was one of the prominent face.