India: Tamil Nadu turmoil: Setback for Sasikala: Attorney General advises governor to conduct floor test!
-Dr. Abdul ruff Colachal
Tamil Nadu is passing through a difficult phase in its political history. AIADMK’s interim general secretary Sasikala has been demanding the Governor to swear her in as she has a clear majority of party MLAs in the assembly, while CM Panneerselvam has demanded to let him withdraw his resignation letter because he did so on coercion by Sasikala
Even while most AIADMK MLAs are kept in a 5 star hotel spending huge sums on each – have they been purchased by Sasikala like the cricketers in IPL or footballers at ISL by India’s billionaires and corporate lords, who evade taxes and increase their black money?
One such AIADMK MLAs Saravanan MLA from South Madurai constituency-who was locked in the star hotel, escaped in a guise and escaped from the hotel. There is a case in the High court about the kidnaping and secretly keeping of MLAs in a unknown place.
In a dramatic turn of events in political crisis in Tamil Nadu, India, arising out of division in the ruling AIADMK following the death of its leader Jayalalithaa, the Attorney General of India has said the Governor needs to go for a floor test to ascertain the support of party MLAs by the CM Pannerselvam and his rival Sasikala.
After the Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi’s opinion was consulted on Saturday, the A-G advised Governor Vidyasagar Rao to conduct a floor test within a week. If Rao heeds his advice, this will be the first time that the two chief ministerial candidates will face a direct face-off and the numbers will determine the ultimate results. Sources said that the opinion was sought by Rao from the Attorney General who has cited the 1998 Supreme Court judgement in the Jagdambika Pal case in which the apex court had ordered a floor test in the Assembly to determine who among the two claimants — Jagdambika Pal and Kalyan Singh — had the majority for chief ministership of Uttar Pradesh.
The opinion, the sources said, has stated that Governor should call a special session within a week’s time and have a composite floor test as was ordered by the Supreme Court in the Jagdambika Pal case”. The opinion on floor test was given as the two claimants are from the same party and they will be pitted against each other to determine who commands majority support in the Assembly, the sources said.
SC verdict to decide Sasikala’s political future
Having secretly kept her future plan Sasikala decided to execute it in perfection with the help of CM Panneerselvam but it got misfired as the governor refused to sear her in for serious legal reasons. Though she could be punished for her financial crimes she insists she should be invited by the governor to form government wither favorite MLAs who support her more actively than others. After much wait, a bench of Justices PC Ghose and Amitava Roy is likely to pronounce the judgment at 10.30 am on February 14 Tuesday on a batch of appeals, including the one filed by the Karnataka government against the high court verdict acquitting prime accused Jayalalithaa and her close aide (and now AIADMK’s interim general secretary and temporary legislature party head) Sasikala in the Rs 66 crore disproportionate assets case.
Prosecution lawyer says that verdict would be given on Sasikala one way or the other.
Sasikala keeps visiting ‘detained’ MLAs
Ahead of the verdict, Sasikala visited the five-star Golden Bay resort (Rs 10,000 per day per MLA plus othr charges for “special” services) where many of the MLAs who are supporting her have been touted to be detained forcibly. She conducted a press meet where she visible broke down repeatedly while saying she was asked by people to carry on Amma’s legacy.
The resort has been blocked to the public and the media but Sasikala has denied holding lawmakers hostage in an extreme measure to check defection. In a show of tearful address to the MLAs at the resort, Sasikala urged the legislators to help capture the secretariat for her. She also revealed the final words that Jayalalithaa spoke to her were, “No one can destroy our party,” before adding that she would “sacrifice her life” for the party.
In a way to keep the MLAs under her control, Sasikala said she had come to know of a conspiracy being hatched to divide the party after the death of the former chief minister of Tamil Nadu in December. “With the party having a cadre strength of 1.5 crore no ‘komban’ (person with great skills) can break the AIADMK,” she told the cheering crowd. A composed but worried Sasikala said that she and Jayalalithaa together had seen 1,000 such ‘Panneerselvams’ so she is not scared.” Speaking in front of a few supporters at the Poes Garden, and later at the Golden Bay resort, Sasikala was seen evoking memories of Amma’s political journey in order help to garner people’s sympathy towards her as the suffering loyalist. “The party cadres are with me,” she said, adding, “As long as the cadres are with me and with Amma’s blessings, an AIADMK government will be in place.
Meanwhile, the BJP leader and Rajya Sabha member Subramanian Swamy on Monday said that Governor Rao should invite Sasikala to form the next government. Swamy also clarified that considering Sasikala has the majority, constitutionally she can form the government under the Constitution’s Article 191. Swamy was “certain” that a few Union Ministers were interfering with the political affairs of the state of Tamil Nadu while the AIADMK is busy infighting. Following his allegation, Swamy filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court seeking appointment of Sasikala as the chief minister of Tamil Nadu. He says that even Advocate Soli Sorabjee has agreed that the governor cannot delay Sasikala’s swearing-in indefinitely, though he also said governor can delay the decision. Swamy also said that a constitutional breakdown in Tamil Nadu has happened because of the governor’s delay in swearing in Sasikala.
Sorabjee stated that “the Governor is well within his rights to defer the swearing-in for a few days particularly when the (verdict in the) disproportionate assets case, involving Sasikala, is imminent”. On the other hand, Union minister Kiren Rijiju said that considering this political crisis is an internal matter of the state, the Centre cannot do much about it.
AIADMK MP R Parthiban representing Theni district called on Panneerselvam at his residence in Chennai on Sunday evening and offered his support, taking the total number of Parliamentarians in his favour to 11. Meanwhile, a Panneerselvam supporter MP V Maithreyan also met the governor on the same day.
Sasikala’s party spokesperson Vaigai Chelvan said O Panneerselvam had the support of just seven MLAs and therefore cannot prove his majority in the state Assembly in the event of a floor test.”The majority of the AIADMK MLAs are with Chinnamma (Sasikala) and we are ready to prove our strength (in a floor test),” he told reporters.
Meanwhile, there was a security breach at Kanimozhi’s house where masked men who entered the house for robbery. The man, who entered the house just after Kanimozhi left for a DMK party meeting with M K Stalin, was arrested.
This advice from the Attorney General is very close to what the CM Panneerselvam has requested the Governor to do to settle issue. However, Governor is not bound by anybody’s advice as he can decide the matter on his own on consultation with legal experts.
Now Panneerselvam’s resolution to continue to rule the state would be tabled for test by MLAs along with that of Sasikala’s demand for swearing in.
A special session of Assembly could be convened shortly to undertake the floor test to ascertain the support being enjoyed by both CM Panneerselvam and Sasikala, sources at Governor’s office said that soon a notification might be issued by the Governor in this regard.
Meanwhile, reliable sources said the judgment of Supreme Court in the disproportionate assets case would be declared tomorrow or day after. The judgment is being reserved even before Jayalalithaa died mainly because of the anxiety that there could be repercussions in the state leading to deaths by AIADMK party workers as it had happened earlier when Jayalalithaa was jailed in Bengaluru.
Amidst the growing suspense over the pending Supreme Court verdict on VK Sasikala’s involvement in the disproportionate assets case and Attorney General’s advice for a floor test, here are the key highlights on how the Tamil Nadu political crisis took shape on the seventh day.
Not only shrewd Sasikala but also her supporters in politics and media are deeply disturbed and highly disappointed by the turn of events that go against Sasikala and move in favor of OPS.