February 2017
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Tamil Nadu crisis: O Panneerselvam, Sasikala roll dice, governor seeks clarity from Centre
(CHENNAI, Jan 09, 2017): On a day of hectic activity, governor C Vidyasagar Rao met the two warring factions of AIADMK on Thursday first caretaker chief minister O Panneerselvam, who claimed majority support, and then general secretary V K Sasikala, who staked claim to form the next government.

Rao, who reached here from Mumbai in the afternoon, is learnt to have sent his report to the Centre at night for further "clarity", given that the Supreme Court verdict in the disproportionate assets case against Sasikala is expected soon.

Panneerselvam, accompanied by AIADMK presidium chairman E Madhusudanan, P H Pandian, and his supporters, met the governor at 5pm and submitted his representation, presenting his case of support among MLAs. "The governor was also informed about the detention of MLAs in city hotels," of Panneerselvam's associate told TOI.

The caretaker CM requested the governor to order a probe into the "mysterious" death of former CM J Jayalalithaa, and pointed out that he himself, as the CM, was not allowed to visit the ailing leader.

"Good things will happen. Dharma will triumph," Panneerselvam told reporters at his residence after meeting the governor.

Two hours later, Sasikala, accompanied by 10 ministers, met the governor to stake her claim, but not before paying a visit to the Jayalalithaa memorial on Marina Beach and paying floral tributes. She also placed the envelope containing the names of MLAs endorsing her leadership on the grave.

"We have presented a list of 134 MLAs, excluding speaker P Dhanapal who cannot vote. We hope it will be positive. We are expecting a decision any time to get the invitation to form the government. The governor sought clarifications and that was given right away. He said he would get some concurrence, constitutionally," a minister who accompanied Sasikala told TOI.

Even as sources said the governor may take a decision on the contesting claims of Sasikala and Panneerselvam on Friday, constitutional experts said he could not be expected to act in haste, and would wait for the Supreme Court's verdict in the DA case next week. The governor's cautious approach was supported by legal experts who said should the judgement go against Sasikala, it would create a needless crisis.

Panneerselvam's transformation from an obsequious CM to an increasingly popular choice of the people means the BJP may not remain an indifferent spectator to the developments in the state as it has seemed so far. In fact, if the SC verdict goes against Sasikala, the BJP may come out openly in support of Panneerselvam, sources said.

Sasikala also had onetoone talk with the governor for 10 minutes. The party got the signature of Kandarvakottai MLA B Arumugam, who was hospitalised, for the candidature of Sasikala.

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