Sasikala loyalist Edappadi K Palanisamy took oath as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu in presence of Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao on Thursday. 31 MLAs were also sworn in as Cabinet ministers along with Palanisamy.
Ending the 10-day impasse over government formation, the Governor had asked Palanisamy, the AIADMK Legislature Party Leader, to form his ministry at the earliest and seek a vote of confidence in the Assembly within 15 days.
“The Governor has today appointed Edappadi K Palanisamy, Party Headquarters Secretary of AIADMK as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu and invited him to form the ministry at the earliest,” a Raj Bhavan release said.
The Governor’s invitation came “in acceptance” of the letter submitted by Palanisamy on February 14, saying he had been elected as the Leader of the AIADMK Legislature party in a meeting of its MLAs that day.
On February 14, AIADMK General Secretary V K Sasikala was convicted by the Supreme Court in Rs 66 crore disproportionate assets case, dealing a body blow to her ambition of becoming Chief Minister.
She was earlier elected AIADMK Legislature party leader on February 5, but a revolt by the O Panneerselvam came as a spanner in her works. Soon after news of Palanisamy emerging as the Chief Minister came in, supporters of Sasikala welcomed his elevation and hailed the Governor’s decision. MLAs staying at the Koovathur resort, about 80 km from Chennai, for the past one week amidst police enquiries of their well-being, were all smiles and also raised slogans, hailing ‘Chinnamma’ (Sasikala).
Party MPs supporting Sasikala said due process has come into being and that the state government would stay.
Though the Governor held meetings with both the warring factions led by Panneerselvam and Palanisamy respectively during the last two days, he seems to have gone by the constitutional mandate on the support of MLAs’ to the Chief Minister designate, who claims to have the 124 legislators on his side.
Rao was on Monday advised by Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi to convene a special session of the Legislative Assembly within a week for holding a composite floor test.
Immediately after Rao invited Palanisamy to form the government, AIADMK MLAs hailed the Governor, and raised pro-Sasikala slogans. The AIADMK Twitter handle, after posting the Governor’s decision, simply said, ‘#Ammawins’.
Sources on Wednesday said the Governor’s office had verified the signatures of the 124 legislators, whose letters of support Palanisamy had submitted to Vidyasagar Rao on Wednesday for the second time.
The Governor was of the view that ‘the whole world knew that Palanisamy had the numbers on his side’. The Governor formed the view that he would go by the time-tested tradition of inviting the leader claiming majority support.
He was of the view that the advice of Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi to hold a joint floor test to determine the strength of the two sides did not hold water in this case.
Vidyasagar Rao’s stand was that no previous Governor had called for such a test, which had only been ordered by the Supreme Court, sources said.
E Palanisamy was appointed AIADMK legislature party leader by Sasikala on Wednesday, before surrendered in Bengaluru jail.