Chennai: Chief Minister E Palaniswami, who will find out on Saturday if he remains in charge of Tamil Nadu longer than two days, has received two pieces of advice from opposition leader MK Stalin. “don’t smile at me” and don’t be a leader “remote-controlled” by VK Sasikala, the new matriarch of the Chief Minister’s party, the AIADMK.
Ms Sasikala was jailed on Wednesday after being convicted for corruption. Mr Palaniswami is serving as her proxy. Their rival is AIADMK alum O Panneerselvam who was Acting Chief Minister, claimed that he should get tenure, and was, as a result, expelled by Ms Sasikala from the party.
When expounding on his many “betrayals” to the party before she was imprisoned, Ms Sasikala included the fact that Mr Panneerselvam had smiled at Mr Stalin in the legislature. Which led to Mr Panneerselvam responding that was not a crime. He also said “smiling at another human being is one of the qualities that differentiate humans from animals” -the Tamil Nadu political crisis has not been short on metaphors, colour or sarcasm flitting between the factions of the AIADMK. Both sides also claim to be acting on the instructions of J Jayalalithaa, who died in December while Chief Minister, and was replaced as power centre in the party by her live-in aide of over 20 years, Ms Sasikala.
The AIADMK has 134 legislators, of whom all but ten back Ms Sasikala, and therefore Mr Palaniswami. He needs 118 votes to remain Chief Minister – currently, he has six more than that.
Mr Stalin has not divulged his political strategy as yet for tomorrow’s trust vote. His party, the DMK, has 89 legislators.
Mr Palaniswami took oath as 13th Chief Minister on Thursday along with a cabinet of 30. Ms Sasikala reportedly watched the ceremony on a television in jail in Bengaluru.
Despite the fact that Mr Paneerselvam’s bid to take a trust vote to prove he remains the rightful head of government was turned down by Governor C Vidyasagar Rao, and his team’s size remains in the low double digits, he has pledged “the battle will continue.”