Edappadi K Palaniswami, 62, was sworn into office on Thursday as the 21st chief minister of Tamil Nadu.
As widely reported already, he was the choice of the ruling AIADMK’s now-jailed chief, V K Sasikala, after her own claim to the job was aborted by the Supreme Court’s convicting her in an old graft case.
Except O. Panneerselvam and Ma Foi K. Pandiarajan, Mr. Palaniswami has retained the outgoing Council of Ministers. K.A. Sengottaiyan is the only new inductee. Mr. Palaniswami is given 15 days to prove his majority.
The Governor’s invitation came “in acceptance” of the letter submitted by Mr. Palaniswami on February 14.
Governor administered the oath of office and secrecy to Palaniswami, a party veteran from western Tamil Nadu, and his 30-member Cabinet at a ceremony in the Raj Bhavan. The ministers were sworn-in in batches.
Political crisis in Tamil Nadu started after J Jayalalithaa’s death on December 5 which triggered a massive succession war within the ruling AIADMK. Jayalalithaa had powered the party to a rare successive term in office in the state in the May, 2016 Assembly polls. She continued on the post through her grim 74-day battle for life.
Stone-pelting near O. Panneerselvam’s residence triggers chaos. Supporters of Mr. Panneerselvam and Law Minister C. Ve. Shanmugam pelt stones at each other. Mr. Shanmugam is Mr. Panneerselvam’s neighbour.
Former Minister K.P. Munusamy condemns the incident saying till the time Mr. Panneerselvam was CM, there were no incidents of violence even as thousands of people used to visit his residence.
“Within one hour of Palaniswami’s taking over, an AIADMK cadre has been attacked. They have attacked their own partyman. How will they maintain law and order? We have started a peaceful protest,” he says. “This is not against (the MLAs)… It is against the family that is controlling you.”
“We will not let the party go into the hands of a few of VK Sasikala’s family members,” Panneerselvam said, shortly after Governor C Vidyasagar Rao invited Sasikala loyalist EK Palaniswami to form the next government and prove his majority in the Tamil Nadu Assembly within 15 days.
Immediately after the Supreme Court pronounced its verdict convicting V K Sasikala in the Disproportionate Assets case on February 14, several names were considered by her before a formal meeting was convened to elect the Legislature Party Leader.
Among the strong contenders for the post was K A Sengottaiyan, the strongman from the Western belt who was appointed to the key post of party presidium chairman after veteran E Madusudanan switched over to the Panneerselvam camp.
Finally, Sasikala zeroed in on Palaniswami though he was technically only third in hierarchy in the Panneerselvam Cabinet after Forest Minister, Dindigul C Srinivasan.
During the 2011-16 Jayalalithaa’s Cabinet too, Edappadi came only after Panneerselvam, Natham R Viswanathan and R Vaithilingam in the hierarchy, though he was still part of the key ministers of the Jayalalithaa Cabinet.