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'There must be fresh elections in Tamil Nadu'

By Shobha Warrier
February 10, 2017 12:42 IST
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'The Centre is using Panneerselvam.'
'He is not known for standing up for his own rights, let alone for the state.'
'He spoke only after he saw huge protests against Sasikala; otherwise, he would have just complied and continued to walk down the aisle.'

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam with Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao in Chennai, February 9, 2017.

What will the governor of Tamil Nadu do now?

Who will he call first to be the chief minister?

Will Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao wait till next week's Supreme Court verdict?

Dr R Manivannan, professor and head of the department of politics and public administration, University of Madras, speaks's Shobha Warrier

Sasikala took the majority of MLAs in three buses to a resort in Mahabalipuram...

I am reminded of what happened in Andhra Pradesh during the power struggle between N T Rama Rao and Chandrababu Naidu.

We have seen this kind of horse trading happening in Haryana.

But whoever becomes the chief minister -- whether it is Sasikala or Panneerselvam -- the government has lost its credibility.

It has no moral right to exist.

Both of them?

What is the difference between the two?

One spoke only after he saw huge protests against Sasikala; otherwise, he would have just complied and continued to walk down the aisle.

I don't think both of them do not deserve any sympathy from the people.

The people of Tamil Nadu need sympathy, not any one of them.

Panneerselvam has become a hero after he revolted because there was so much anger against Sasikala in the state.

Exactly. He is a false hero.

I am not defending Sasikala; she should not become the chief minister under any circumstances.

It is unfair for the people that the choice is between these two.

In my view, this government should be dismissed because there is no moral credibility even if they say they have the numbers.

I am not for President's Rule either.

I feel there should be fresh elections in Tamil Nadu.

Is it because you feel the 2016 mandate was for Jayalalithaa and both of them do not have the moral right to rule the state?

Yes. They did not carry forward the mandate.

Leaders do pass away, but the people who take over should have the ability to carry forward the mandate.

Everybody knows about Sasikala and as far as Panneerselvam is concerned, I don't think he can stand the trial of the floor.

How do you assess the two months of OPS rule? He said he handled the aftermath of the cyclone and the jallikattu agitation quite well though some people wanted him to fail.

I don't think he handled the issues well.

I feel there was no government in Tamil Nadu for the last four years.

Four years?

Yes, even before the 2016 elections, there was no government in Tamil Nadu; they were pretending that there was a government.

It all started with Jayalalithaa's arrest and jail term.

Since then, governance completely collapsed.

There was a government, but there was no governance for more than four years.

Do you see the Centre's hand in OPS' so-called revolt? He had meekly given his resignation and moved away for Sasikala's entry two days earlier.

Certainly, Panneerselvam enjoys the support from the Centre.

But you should understand that without adequate support from his party, the Centre's support doesn't mean anything except making a sensation.

The BJP wanted to operate from behind and they have been doing it through the bureaucracy.

They are certainly behind this game, but Panneerselvam has long term career prospects, and he knows that stepping down doesn't augur well for him in the long run.

It was quite fine for him to step down as the chief minister and be the deputy chief minister, but what he noticed was that there was huge popular anger and unrest against Sasikala.

Panneerselvam saw the popular unrest correctly and he understood that it was more important for him to be with the people as the court verdict is expected, and he has a good chance to block Sasikala then.

He saw this chance only after he was asked to step down, only after he saw the widespread anger erupted on social media against Sasikala.

But he is not competent to lead anymore.

The MLAs were handpicked by Sasikala and naturally their support is with her.

Not all of them, but at least one third of them were handpicked by Sasikala and her family but when it comes to the brink, that is, when they will come to know that she would be punished by the court, in no time, they will turn around and start talking about protecting the party and Panneerselvam's leadership.

Do you feel the party cadres are with Panneerselvam and not with Sasikala?

You can consider that.

He has their support only when he decided to fight Sasikala.

Do you think the governor will wait for the Supreme Court verdict before taking a decision?

Despite such political instability, despite being such a big state, Tamil Nadu has not had a permanent Governor.

You feel it is a calculated move by the Centre?

Absolutely. Instability in Tamil Nadu is part of the political plan.

In what way will the political instability benefit the BJP?

The BJP has never been a factor in Tamil Nadu politics and they are most unlikely to become a factor in Tamil Nadu also.

But these kind of chances give them a window of opportunity to bring themselves as a player.

The BJP has to gain something out of this crisis.

It can increase its visibility and presence and it can even become an Opposition party in the long run.

If the Supreme Court verdict goes against Sasikala, do you see Panneerselvam as the chief ninister with the Centre's blessings?

He is already enjoying the blessings of the Centre. The Centre is using him.

Otherwise, Panneerselvam is not known for standing up for his own rights, let alone for the state.

The BJP factor gives him a sense of security as the chief official of the state.

What is the political scenario you see now?

If the court verdict goes against Sasikala, under that circumstances, the party has to elect a new general secretary and chief minister.

They might bring Panneerselvam back if he is not removed from the party membership.

All the MLAs want to be in power more than anything else.

It is another matter that none of them will be able to win a single election hereafter.

They had such a royal four years in front of them and it's all gone now.

If she is not found guilty?

More than one third of MLAs will shift and the party will split.

The DMK may support Panneerselvam from outside.

The DMK is not keen to do any horse trading as they know that when the government falls, the DMK is going to gain.

Will the people of Tamil Nadu accept Sasikala as chief minister?

I don't think the state will accept her as chief minister.

Even if she becomes one, people will not accept her.

That is what surprises everyone.

Why is she forcing herself like this when she can control the party and government as the general secretary?

People have no control over her elevation as the general secretary in her party.

People don't like her; people don't respect her.

Everybody feels she has cut the golden goose.

Is this the beginning of the end of the AIADMK?

Yes, it is the beginning.

The party might go into tatters in the coming months and years.

Certainly, the AIADMK is heading towards a split.

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IMAGE: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam with Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao in Chennai, February 9, 2017.

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