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Edappadi is Chief Minister of Tamilnadu

Thursday, 16 February 2017
NT Bureau

Chennai: At last, the political KBC (Kaun Banega Chief Minister) has come to an end, with Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao today inviting Edappadi Palaniswami to form government. But there is a catch-- the AIADMK legislature party leader should prove his majority in 15 days.

Today’s dose of drama started at around 10 am, when the Governor invited Palaniswami to Raj Bhavan.

Though political circlces were agog with the buzz that the latter, who is presently the Highways and PWD Minister, would be made the Chief  Minister, other theories were also doing rounds.

But the curtains came down finally afternoon, when the Raj Bhavan issued a formal statement, announcing the Governor’s decision. For the record, it said, "The Governor today appointed Edappadi K Palaniswmi, Headquarters Secretary of the AIADMK, as the Chief Minister of Tamilnadu and invited him to form the Ministry at the earliest."

"This is in acceptance of the letter submitted by Edappadi Palaniswami on 14 February that he was elected as the Leader of the AIADMK Legislature Party in a meeting of the Party MLAs held on that day," it added.

"The Governor has also requested the Chief Minister-Designate Edappadi Palaniswami to seek the vote of confidence of the Assembly within 15 days," it said. While Minister D Jayakumar said the swearing-in ceremony would happen at 4 pm, Raj Bhavan sources said the time was yet to be confirmed.

Palaniswami would be the third Chief Minister to assume office after the AIADMK retained power for a second successive term in the Assembly elections held in May last year. After the AIADMK’s victory, J Jayalalithaa took over as the Chief Minister.

However, following her untimely  death after 75 days of hospitalisation on 5 December, her trusted lieutenant O Panneerselvam succeeded her and assumed office as CM the same day. However, he resigned after AIADMK general secretary V K Sasikala was elected as the Legislature Party leader to succeed him on 5 February.

With the impending Apex court order on the DA case and the sudden volte face by OPS, who claimed that he was ‘forced’ to step down, the State plunged into a political turmoil--with both the groups one led by OPS and the other by Saiskala--claiming majority support of MLAs.

After Sasikala’s hopes of becoming CM were shattered following her conviction in the DA case, Palaniswami was elected as the LP leader in her place, following which he met the Governor on 14 February and staked his claim to form the next government by offering the letters of support of MLAs, who were ‘housed in a resort at Koovathur in a bid to prevent them from switching to the rival OPS camp’, which started getting overwhelming support.

Palaniswami met the Governor for the second time last night (hours after Sasikala left for Bengaluru to surrender before the Trial court) and explained to him that he has the majority support.

Following this he got an invitation from Raj Bhavan this morning when the Governor invited him to form the next government at the earliest and prove his majority in the Assembly within 15 days.

Meanwhile, even as Palaniswami and his team of seniors were in the Raj Bhavan this morning, MLAs at the resort reportedly held a ‘crucial meeting’. But there was no clarity about the agenda.

In a related development, the Madras High Court today quashed habeas corpus petitions seeking to know the whereabouts of AIADMK MLAs Geetha (Krishnarayapuram) and Ramachandran (Kunnam)

STALIN WELCOMES

DMK working president M K Stalin, the Leader of Opposition in Tamilnadu Assembly, today welcomed the Governor’s decision inviting Palaniswami to form government. "Though it is a delayed decision, we welcome it," he said

NEW NAMES IN THE CABINET

Palaniswami, who was set to take charge along with the new Cabinet, was expected to make changes to the existing one. According to sources, K A Sengottaiyan, Senthil Balaji and a few others would be made Ministers.

There is a grapevine that TTV Dinakaran, the new deputy general secretary of the AIADMK, might also become a Minister.

(CAPTIONS: Edappadi Palaniswami with Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao. (RIGHT) Ahead of Palaniswami’s visit to the Raj Bhavan, tight security was in place.)

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