Recently, in a large (in terms of size and electoral seats) significant Indian state, no one knew who really was the Chief Minister. No one knew who really was the Ruling Party’s leader. There were two leading factions of the same party and everyone was choosing one of the two available political camps. The Election Commission was being requested to step in and solve the state’s political crisis. No, I am not talking about Samajwadi Party’s latest family feud. I am talking about the very similar political feud taking place right now in a state that is quite far from Uttar Pradesh, but is trying to follow in its political footsteps very closely i.e. *drumroll* Tamil Nadu.
Ever since Jayalalitha’s death, there has been a lot of political upheaval in the state of Tamil Nadu. While it all started almost two months ago in the first week of December, we would still consider it a short lived show, just like the Uttar Pradesh show, because of the emergency screening of the Jallikattu Drama.
As per a verdict of the Supreme Court, VK Sasikala has been sentenced to 4 years imprisonment. This means she cannot be holding a legislators seat for the time her imprisonment continues. Same for another 6 years after she has completed her sentence.
Prior to this the current Chief Minister, O. Panneerselvam rebelled against VK Sasikala. He claimed that he was forced to resign as the CM and Sasikala was trying to create an autocratic government as she was power hungry. Hence, a ban on Sasikala to contest elections for the next 10 years is certainly a welcome change for O. Paneerselvam. But Sasikala was not one to go down without a fight. The MLAs in the Sasikala Camp have nominated K. Palanisamy as the AIADMK’s new legislature leader and also the Chief Minister for the state. K. Palanisamy has already submitted a list of MLAs that support his bid for the seat of Chief Minister.
Palanisamy has support of 125 MLAs, as of now. On the other hand, merely 10 MLAs support O. Panneerselvam. So what really lies in the future for the three players on the Tamil Nadu Political Battlefield? Lets find out.
Her dream of sitting on the Chief Minister’s chair was crushed by the Supreme Court early Tuesday morning. Despite this, Sasikala has confirmed that she will continue the long running tradition of running a government from the prison. But the public doesn’t like or support her, you say? Well, Sasikala has proven time and again that she doesn’t give two shits about what the public wants.
The nomination of K.Palanisamy as the new Chief Minister can be clearly construed as a nomination of a puppet. A puppet show where Sasikala holds the real power and makes all the decisions. However, the puppet move has not always turned out to be in favour of the master, mostly because, in this case, the puppets are live human beings capable of logical thinking and self motivated interests. The most recent example of this is when Sasikala tied the threads around Panneerselvam’s hands and while he continued dancing to her tunes for a while, he ultimately realised his own potential and broke free of the threads. Sasikala has again tried the same move with Palanisamy. So, Sasikala has two scenarios now laid out for her.
First, the Manmohan Singh Scenario, where the power remains in her hands while Palanisamy stays on as the Chief Minister and Party Leader. Second, the scenario where Palanisamy pulls a Paneerselvam and breaks free of the Sasikala threads. (if the second one happens, I would advise Sasikala to buy some stronger threads).
Palanisamy has already submitted a list of 125 MLAs that support him. If he does in fact become the next CM of Tamil Nadu, he has the same scenarios in his future as Sasikala does. This would help Palanisamy a lot in his political career. Palanisamy is currently known as Sasikala’s puppet. Being Sasikala’s friend will not help his image. However, if Palanisamy runs the government his own way and proves that the power of the CM Office is in his hands, and not Sasikala’s, he will not just be an influential player in Indian Politics for the next few years. If he plays his cards right (especially the victim card looks at Mr. Panneerselvam), he might also be accepted by the general public of Tamil Nadu.
Palanisamy can also opt to stay quiet and do whatever he is told to do. This way, he can get out of this fiasco as soon as possible and not get much political stains on his coat, just like Dr. Manmohan Singh who, quite rightly, “Took showers with his raincoat on”.
Again, all this depends on the assumption that K. Palanisamy does in fact get the Chief Minister seat. But why would there be a doubt on him winning this even after he has 125 MLAs on his side? I explain that in the next segment.
Looking at the events upto the evening of February 14, any layman would say that the Sasikala-Palanisamy camp has won as they have the majority on their side. However, experts would agree that, that is not the case. An unexpected turn is always there in politics. It couldn’t be said with all surety that the majority of MLAs are with Palanisamy. Suo Moto or compelled by some external event, the MLAs supporting him could turn over to the other side. O. Panneerselvam had shown that he was not knocked down yet by the night of February 14. He visited the Jayalalitha Memorial alongwith Deepa Jayakumar, Jayalalitha’s niece, where Deepa confirmed that she will be joining politics and had these thoughts regarding Sasikala
“Sasikala is going to the place where she should be.”
With Jayalalitha’s own blood joining forces with O. Panneerselvam and also openly condemning VK Sasikala, a person already not much liked by the Tamil Nadu public, there’s a really high chance that atleast a few MLAs might change sides to follow Amma’s legacy so as to ensure themselves of the next election victory.
Now, let’s do a little math. There are 135 AIADMK MLAs in total, out of which 125 are reportedly supporting Palanisamy while the remaining 10 are with Paneerselvam. To form a government, one needs atleast 118 MLAs in support. Panneerselvam doesn’t necessarily need 118 signatures right away. If he can get even eight MLAs to stop supporting Palanisamy, he would buy himself more time. It might not be hard to do that, all things considered.
Now, OPS also has the option of delivering a victory to Deepa Jayakumar and himself going to the background, as he strongly hinted late Tuesday night. The public will also probably favour a government led by Deepa Jayakumar as compared to one led by Sasikala. Consequently, O. Panneerselvam can look for a clean exit from politics while the time is right for him.
All in all, it looks like a good big fight for the Chief Minister’s post. This Sasikala-OPS battle might give us some interesting news for the next couple of days atleast. And as usual, there’s no confirming who would win. Things change by the hour in politics.
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