EPS in, OPS out of TN CM race

Sasikala addressing a press conference at Golden Bay resort

The fate of AIADMK general secretary Sasikala Natarajan, fighting a bitter power battle with Tamil Nadu caretaker CM O Panneerselvam after the demise of Jayalithaa, will be decided today as the Supreme Court is all set to deliver the much-awaited verdict in the disproportionate assets case involving her as an accused.

His choice as leader of the legislative party looks natural since the idea now was to pit one Jayalalithaa loyalist with another. Tamil Nadu has a 234-member legislative assembly.

According to an official in Raj Bhavan, Rao will meet Palanisamy at 7.30pm.

"She (Sasikala) can challenge the verdict through a review petition but her chances of success are very slim".

Sasikala, who had a trouble-free appointment as the party head, was initially chosen by AIADMK early in February to be the states chief minister, taking over from acting Chief Minister O Panneerselvam.

He could now be invited by the state's Governor to prove he has majority support in the assembly.

Palaniswami may also have to report to R P Ravanan, yet another member of the Mannargudi family, who was instrumental in promoting him ever since Kongu region strongman K A Sengottaiyan - now a minister - introduced him, said a party functionary.

According to Palaniswamy, the legislators supporting Sasikala will now shift their loyalty to Panneerselvam.

Hardly anyone outside Tamil Nadu is likely to know of Palanisamy, who is now the public works minister.

Barring Panneerselvam and Pandiarajan, all other MLAs in "the rival camp are welcome to join us", AIADMK leader O.S. Manian told the media.

The Centre must instruct the governor - let us forget the fiction that the governor is an independent agent exercising his judicious discretion over multiple uncertainties -and instruct him to convene the Tamil Nadu assembly and ask it to elect a leader, whom he would appoint as the next chief minister.

While O Panneerselvam has managed to win over 10 odd MPs and some MLAs, Sasikala has been able to rally the support of an overwhelming majority of AIADMK MLAs.

He was tipped for the Chief Minister's post after Jayalalithaa died but that did not happen.Hailing from Nedungulam village in Salem district, Palaniswami belongs to the Gounder community. When a similar situation happened after the death of MGR in 1987, Palanisamy had sworn his allegiance to Jayalalithaa. However, Palanisamy, the PWD, Highways and Minor Ports minister, enjoyed far more clout than Srinivasan, effectively emerging as the number two after Panneerselvam.

The panel of judges also sentenced her nephew and niece to four years in prison after the Karnataka High Court had acquitted them in 2015 of any wrongdoing.

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