Ending the political drama in Chennai for the time being, Edappadi K Palaniswami, who was elected leader of the AIADMK legislature party on the day its general secretary V K Sasikala was convicted in a disproportionate assets case, was sworn in Thursday as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. He has 15 days to prove majority.
The swearing-in ceremony was held at the Raj Bhavan in the afternoon after Palaniswami was invited by Governor C Vidyasagar Rao to form the government, eleven days after former Chief Minister O Panneerselvam stepped down to clear the way for Sasikala. But she lost the chance of becoming Chief Minister after she was convicted.
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Palaniswami was administered the oath of office along with 30 ministers in four batches. He is the the thirteenth Chief Minister of the state, his cabinet the third in ten months since AIADMK returned to power under J Jayalalithaa.
Following her death on December 5, Panneerselvam took charge. Made to step down on February 5, he revolted against Sasikala.
Palaniswami held the PWD, highways and minor ports portfolios in the Jayalalithaa and Panneerselvam cabinets. For now, he has also kept portfolios of public, police, home, finance, personnel and administrative reforms.
Veteran AIADMK leader and party presidium chairman K A Sengottaiyan has been given charge of school education — it used to be with K Pandiarajan, the only minister who switched over to the Panneerselvam camp during the crisis. Barring Palaniswami and Sengottaiyan, all other ministers have retained their portfolios in the new cabinet.
While the cabinet was being sworn in at Raj Bhawan, orders went out to withdraw the security cover provided to Panneerselvam at his official residence on Greenways Road. The emblem of the Chief Minister and the beacon on his official vehicle were also removed.
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After the swearing-in, Palaniswami, his cabinet and the new AIADMK deputy general secretary T T V Dinakaran, Sasikala’s nephew, headed to the Jayalalithaa memorial on Marina Beach to pay tributes. They then left for the resort in Kuvathur where the MLAs have been staying for over two weeks.
The AIADMK MLAs were in a jubilant mood, and raised slogans hailing Sasikala, Jayalalithaa and MGR. “We will make sure that this is going to be a stable government, a good administration,” M Thambidurai, Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker and one of the senior leaders in the Sasikala camp, said.
Meanwhile, C Ponnaiyan, one of the senior leaders in the Panneerselvam camp, said they plan a road trip across the state to “seek support of people in the fight for justice”.
“The government has gone into the hands of one family. We will continue our fight to bring back a government that follows the values of Amma,” Ponnaiyan said.