Even as the Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the trial court verdict that sentenced AIADMK general secretary VK Sasikala to four years jail in the disproportionate assets case, she removed caretaker Chief Minister O Panneerselvam from primary membership of the party and appointed Edappadi K Palanisamy as legislature leader. After his appointment, Palanisamy said in a statement: “All MLAs have elected me as the legislature party leader, soon will meet Governor with support letter of MLAs.”
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In a 570-page judgement in the 19-year-old case that also involved former chief minister J Jayalalithaa, the court ordered Sasikala, 60, a close aide of the late chief minister, to surrender forthwith and serve the remaining part of her four-year jail term. She has already spent six months in a jail in Bengaluru. “Justice will prevail,” was the first reaction of Sasikala after the verdict.
“Whenever Amma (late J Jayalalithaa) was in crisis, I also suffered. This time, I will take it upon me,” said AIADMK’s official Twitter handle, quoting Sasikala. Meanwhile, Palanisamy met Governor Vidyasagar Rao at his residence today as he staked claim to form the government in the state while presenting him the list of MLAs who support him.
There is, however, no clarity as of yet as to when Sasikala would surrender. The apex court judgment essentially bars the party general secretary from contesting elections for nearly 10 years and holding any executive post. Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi. The appointment of Palanisamy as legislature leader also evoked angry reactions from O Panneerselvam’s camp, with unfazed education minister K Pandiarajan rejecting Palanisamy’s election. “Nobody has the authority to elect anybody,” was the terse response from Pandiarajan.
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Jayalalithaa’s niece Deepa Jayakumar also lashed out at the Sasikala camp for Palanisamy’s appointment. “Whoever is going to lead the AIADMK, shouldn’t be a puppet of V K Sasikala clan and should be someone whom Jayalalithaa chose,” said Deepa. The Bharatiya Janata Party too trained its guns at Sasikala after her conviction by the apex court. State BJP said today that conviction of Sasikala is a fitting reply to those who blamed the Governor for the delay in inviting her to take over as Tamil Nadu Chief Minister. “Jayalalalithaa was heading a corruption-free government in her initial days but friendship (with Sasikala) got her involved in corrupt practices, the result of which was this conviction,” party’s state unit president Tamilisai Soundararajan told reporters, adding that the verdict will now lead to cleansing of Tamil Nadu politics and also entry of corruption-free persons to govern the state.
According to reports, the Governor C Vidyasagar Rao is expected to take a call on the formation of a new
government in the state on the basis of recommendations by three legal luminaries, as reported by PTI, including Soli Sorabjee. In a report sent on Sunday to the central government, Rao conveyed he had taken legal opinions from Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, former Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran and constitutional expert Sorabjee.
These experts suggested that similar to the composite floor test conducted in Uttar Pradesh in 1998 could be done in Tamil Nadu, a Home Ministry official said quoting the governor’s report. In 1998, the Supreme Court ordered a floor test in the Uttar Pradesh assembly to determine who between the two claimants — Jagdambika Pal and Kalyan Singh — commanded the majority support for chief ministership.
(With PTI inputs)