Portfolios allocated, but is Jayalalithaa fit enough to speak?
- A controversy has arisen from the AIADMK's claim that Jaya approved her own demotion
- Opposition parties question if she had the ability to consent to such decisions
The information that Jayalalithaa, who is undergoing treatment in Apollo Hospital, Chennai, had verbally approved the transferring of eight ministries, which she was handling, to Finance Minister Panneerselvam, has become the centre of a controversy among political parties in Tamil Nadu, including the AIADMK's cadre.
While transferring the responsibilities of these departments, the press note from the Raj Bhavan stated - "This decision has been taken upon instructions from CM Jayalalithaa".
But other political parties and the opposition DMK in TN have loudly questioned – Is the Chief Minister really in a position to give such instructions?
As they contend, Jayalalithaa is undergoing treatment. The fragmentary and uninformative medical bulletins the hospital has been releasing like clockwork every two days states that she is under artificial respiration, going through passive physiotherapy, had infections, possibly pneumonia and even had surgery to help her breathe better.
Such bulletins clearly imply that she is not in a fully conscious state. If such is the case, how can she take vital decisions like the transferring of portfolios?
AIADMK asserted that the allocation of portfolios held by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa to Finance Minister O Panneerselvam was done on her advice and the change effected after duly taking permission.
"All news is going to the attention of our chief. Only after getting Amma's permission do we do anything. The portfolio allocation was done as per her advice. It was her advice to the Governor. The change (portfolio allocation) was effected after getting her permission," AIADMK spokesperson R Saraswathi told PTI.
As a counter to such allegations, another theory gaining ground is that as a constitutional crisis was imminent, Governor Vidyasagar Rao, using his discretionary power, had transferred Jaya's departments to Panneerselvam.
Incidentally, there is no precedent regarding who automatically takes control if the duly elected Chief Minister is not in a position to make any decisions. The state administration lapses to the Governor, who, after deliberations with senior bureaucrats and ministers, usually runs the country.
The theory doing the rounds assumes that the Tamil Nadu Governor did just that had allocated the portfolios to Panneerselvam on his own discretion.
The DMK, meanwhile, has gone after the controversy with gusto. "People of Tamil Nadu are not sure whether Jayalalitha herself had asked for the transfer of departments that she was handling earlier, and people are suspicious whether the CM has signed the files by herself, given the medical condition that presently she is undergoing. The Governor should give clarity on the whole issue," DMK Chief M Karunanidhi stated.
Such incidents must have come as a relief to the DMK leader, who had lamented a few days ago that he no longer could release statements on the working of the government because the Tamil Nadu government was not doing anything.
The governor’s statement that this decision has been arrived at, after due consultation with Jayalalithaa had given rise to suspicion, Karunanidhi remarked.
Among other interesting points raised by the DMK, they also questioned why it was that high-profile visitors like Rahul Gandhi, Venkaiah Naidu and MK Stalin were not allowed to meet Jayalalithaa directly if she was capable of giving assent to political questions.
PMK leader S Ramadoss also echoed the same question and said that unrelated people should not be allowed to take administrative control of the state.