Sasikala vs O Panneerselvam: Time for President's Rule in Tamil Nadu?
- With both Sasikala and OPS leading major factions, the situation is quite unsettled.
- Traditionally, the states sort things out, without President's Rule being needed.
- However, the many factions, including the BJP in the centre, might not allow this to happen.
Tamil Nadu politics has always been high octane, often changing from minute to minute and usually in full public glare. At such times, when chaos seems to be the order of the day, President's Rule begins to seem more and more like a viable option.
To list the facts - O Panneerselvam (OPS) has formally resigned as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. The Governor, C Vidyasagar Rao, accepted the resignation but asked Panneerselvam to stay on an interim CM for now.
The AIADMK's 134 MLAs have agreed that VK Sasikala should become both the leader of the party and consequently the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. The Governor has refused to come back to Chennai to administer the oath to her. For nearly two days now, the government of Tamil Nadu has basically come to a halt.
Now, OPS is leading a mini-revolt, demanding to be made the CM again. Sasikala has rallied the AIADMK party around her and stressed that only she could be made CM.
Public feeling, mostly expressed online and as crowds before the media cameras seem to be backing OPS. Legally, as the party with the majority, the AIADMK has the right to pick the CM, and they have chosen Sasikala.
Meanwhile, the Election Commission has declared that Sasikala's elevation to AIADMK Party General Secretary is probably illegal, since the Party's constitution does not allow for 'interim General Secretary', and she has not been confirmed as the permanent one yet.
As for OPS, he has been removed from major party positions, but has not yet been expelled from the AIADMK, though Sasikala mentioned that she would be doing so soon.
All of this does have the feel of a break down of constitutional authority in the state. And in such times, as per the Indian Constitution, the Centre has the right to dissolve the government and impose President's Rule, holding new elections in six months.
Currently, it almost feels like there is a concerted effort to make that happen. The current Governor seems unwilling to come to Chennai, the new 'CM-to-be' has the party MLAs but faces a strong negative backlash from the public, and OPS simple does not have the numbers. From all sides, each faction seems to agree - they are not willing to do anything right now.
Also, fueling the rumours that the BJP back Panneerselvam, the Governor seems mysteriously unable to come end things with one meeting. Though, to be fair, the political situation is so tangled, perhaps he too is simply waiting for things to settle on one side or the other firmly.
If President's Rule is imposed, it would mean several things. For one thing, it will give both OPS and Sasikala some breathing space to collect supporters and campaign across the state. With elections in six months after that, it might give both sides the ability to simply take the issue to the voters, and see what they decide.
The move may prove dicey for the DMK as well. Currently, all they have to do is sit back and watch the AIADMK crumble, or at best lend some support to OPS to really push things over the edge. In six months, they will have to mount a proper election campaign - and their own leadership situation is far from rosy.
But a deadlock of this sort hardly makes sense for one of India's biggest states. At the very least, President's Rule will cool the pressure cooker and give everyone a chance to re-callibrate.