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Jayalalithaa invited to form govt by Tamil Nadu Governor


Chennai:  AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa was today invited to form government by Tamil Nadu Governor K Rosaiah following the resignation of her trusted lieutenant O Panneerselvam as Chief Minister, paving the way for her return at the helm after nearly eight months.

At an early morning meeting of party MLAs, 67-year-old Jayalalithaa was unanimously elected as AIADMK Legislature Party Leader, a foreseeable event following the party supremo’s acquittal by the Karnataka High Court in the disproportionate assets case.

Party Treasurer O Panneeerselvam forwarded the motion to elect her as legislature party leader which was seconded by Electricity Minister Natham R Vishwanathan, sources said, adding, it was adopted unanimously.

Minutes later, Panneerselvam announced his resignation as chief minister.

“I have resigned as Chief Minister,” he told party MLAs at the meeting.

A beaming Cooperative Minister, Sellur K Raju, later said, “This is the happiest day of our life.”

Jayalalithaa was disqualified following her conviction in the Rs 66.66 crore disproportionate assets case by a trial court in Bengaluru on September 27. The Karnataka High Court had subsequently acquitted her of the charges on May 11.

In the resolution moved by him, Panneerselvam heaped encomiums on his leader, calling her “gold refined in fire” besides describing her as the ‘permanent General Secretary’ of AIADMK.

Panneerselvam was sworn-in as chief minister on September 29 last year, two days after Jayalalithaa’s conviction.

He had returned to the post for a second time after he was chosen by Jayalalithaa to be the chief minister almost under similar circumstances in 2001 in the wake of her conviction in the TANSI case.

He had resigned six months later in 2002, when she was acquitted by the apex court.

Panneerselvam submitted his resignation to Rosaiah who accepted it and invited Jayalalithaa to form the new government.

According to a Raj Bhavan statement, “The Governor of Tamil Nadu has invited Selvi (Ms) J Jayalalithaa to form the Ministry at the earliest and requested her to send the list of persons to be appointed as Ministers with portfolios.” MORE

According to Raj Bhavan sources, Jayalalithaa is likely to be sworn in “anytime now”.

“The Governor of Tamil Nadu accepted the resignation,” of Panneerselvam and his council of Ministers from the ‘forenoon of’ May 22, 2015, the Raj Bhavan statement said.

“The Governor has requested the Chief Minister (Panneerselvam) and his present council of Ministers to function until alternative arrangements are made,” it said.

Earlier, at the legislature party meeting presided by party presidium chairman E Madusudanan this morning, Panneerselvam asked the MLAs present there to show their approval to Jayalalithaa’s nomination with a “loud applause” which was promptly done by the beaming legislators.

In a show of solidarity, rebel MLAs of the opposition DMDK, including R Sundarrajan, Tamil Azhagan, K Pandiarajan, and R Santhi, participated in the AIADMK party meeting.

Soon celebrations by party cadres and supporters broke out in various parts of the state.

Party workers from all over the state had gathered in huge numbers on Avvai Shanmugam Salai, the AIADMK party headquarters.

Party functionaries had put up hoardings hailing the return of Jayalalithaa in several parts of the city.

“Welcome Mother (Varuga Thaye)”, “Dharma has won” were among the captions on the hoardings that welcomed Jayalalithaa’s imminent return as chief minister.

Several hoardings had the image of a lioness alongside the pictures of Jayalalithaa idolising her.

The roads leading to Jayalalithaa’s residence at Poes Garden were decked up with festoons, mango leaves and party flags. Women workers gathered in Poes Garden, distributed sweets and drew a welcome rangoli for their party chief.

Later, Panneerselvam, accompanied by some of his senior cabinet colleagues, visited the residence of Jayalalithaa.

63-year-old Panneerselvam belongs to the dominant Mudukulathor community and has risen from humble origins, owning a tea stall at his home town Periyakulam which is still being run by his family.

A first-time Minister in 2001 after his election to the assembly, he was given the key Revenue department by Jayalalithaa, indicating her confidence in him.

In 2011, in a further endorsement of her trust, Jayalalithaa allocated the major departments of Finance and PWD to Panneerselvam.

Contrary to the sombre swearing-in ceremony that was witnessed last year when he took oath, Panneeerselvam, often described as Jayalalithaa’s ‘Man Friday’, and AIADMK MLAs were today seen in a buoyant mood on Jayalalithaa’s imminent take over as chief minister.

Even when in the Opposition, Panneerselvam was the ‘No.2′ as Deputy Leader of AIADMK Legislature party from 2001-06.

Jayalalithaa was acquitted by the Karnataka High Court on May 11 after a special trial had convicted her on September 27 last year in a disproportionate assets case and sentenced her to four years in jail.

She was automatically disqualified as an MLA following her conviction under the law. Recently, an MLA resigned from RK Nagar constituency in the city raising speculation that she may contest from there.

Jayalalithaa is scheduled to make her first public appearance today following her acquittal when she will garland the statues of Dravidian icon C N Annadurai, party founder M G Ramachandran and rationalist leader E V Ramasamy, a practice carried out by Dravidian parties during important occasions.

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