Governor to reach Chennai; Sasikala herds party MLAs

Chennai: Tamil Nadu Governor C Vidyasagar Rao will reach here today, triggering speculation about whether he will swear-in VK Sasikala after she mustered an overwhelming majority of AIADMK MLAs against a rebellious O Panneerselvam, who claimed he has their backing.

Rao, who had kept away from Chennai for the last three days triggering speculation whether he had reservations on swearing-in Sasikala, will reach here tomorrow afternoon but there was no word on what he plans to do. Jurists were divided on whether Sasikala, against whose acquittal in a disproportionate assets case the Supreme Court is likely to deliver its verdict next week, can be sworn-in.

After Panneerselvam’s midnight rebellion, Sasikala called a meeting of party MLAs at the AIADMK headquarters in a show of strength this morning and later herded them in buses to undisclosed destination in a bid to keep the flock together. There were unconfirmed reports that AIADMK would even parade the MLAs before the President if the Governor delays the swearing-in of Sasikala.

In an act of defiance, Panneerselvam said an inquiry commission under a sitting Supreme Court judge will be set up to probe the “doubts” surrounding the health condition and demise of Jayalalithaa.

Addressing the legislators, Sasikala, who had sacked Panneerselvam from the post of treasurer last night, launched a no-holds-barred attack on him, saying he had betrayed the party and “fully merged” with DMK which Jayalalithaa had fought all her life.

She claimed she had got wind of his moves a few days ago itself and asserted that the party remains united and will not be cowed down by such threats. Accusing arch rival DMK of trying to destabilise the party, Sasikala said “betrayal” will never win in the AIADMK and that no one will be able to divide the party.

Panneerselvam, who was chosen by Jayalalithaa as stop-gap chief minister when she had to quit twice due to adverse court verdicts, today maintained that he enjoyed support of majority of MLAs and would prove it on the floor of the house at an appropriate time.

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