Though she will continue to remain Chief Minister, all ministerial portfolios held by J Jayalalithaa have been allocated to Tamil Nadu Finance Minister O Panneerselvam, a Raj Bhavan statement issued Tuesday night said.
Jayalalithaa has been in Chennai’s Apollo Hospital since September 22. A health bulletin issued by the hospital Monday said she is on respiratory support and is being looked after by a team of intensivists and other consultants.
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A statement issued by the principal secretary to Governor C Vidyasagar Rao said that all of Jayalalithaa’s portfolios, including Home, IAS, IFS and General Administration, have been allocated to Panneerselvam under Clause (3) of Article 166 of the Constitution.
The statement said that Panneerselvam will also preside over cabinet meetings from now on.
“This arrangement has been made as per the advice of the Chief Minister and will continue until Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa resumes her duties,” it said.
“Jayalalithaa will continue to be the Chief Minister.”
A senior AIADMK leader had told The Indian Express last week that there was “no need” to appoint an interim CM “when Amma is around”. On reports of a tussle between Panneerselvam and Jayalalithaa’s close aide Sasikala, who is reportedly taking crucial decisions in her absence, the leader said, “Right now there are no issues. Sasikala can’t afford to have any fight with anyone now. She will guide the party and government in Amma’s name like Bharata ruled the country in Rama’s name.”
The decision comes at a time when some influential OBC groups have been demanding that their candidate be named CM. While Panneerselvam and Sasikala belong to the powerful Thevar community, Gounder and Nadar groups have also been vying for the top spot.
A similar arrangement had been made in October 1984, when the then CM M G Ramachandran, Jayalalithaa’s political mentor, was hospitalised in Apollo. As MGR’s absence led to a constitutional crisis, the then Governor S L Khurana had allowed V R Nedunchezhiyan, the then finance minister and number two in the cabinet, to handle the CM’s portfolios.