Political tension rises in India's Tamil Nadu following incoming leader's conviction


Chennai: E K Palaniswami, a close confidant of AIADMK leader VK Sasikala, was on Thursday sworn-in as the new chief minister of Tamil Nadu, ending weeks of a bitter power struggle among the loyalists of former party general secretary J Jayalalithaa.

After being sworn-in as the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami he went to Jayalalithaa's memorial to pay floral tributes to her along with his cabinet. However she was not invited the form the government and on Tuesday she was convicted by the Supreme Court in disproportionate assets case.

The two-judge bench comprising Justices P C Ghose and Amitava Roy while overturning the Karnataka High Court verdict that had acquitted the four convicts directed Sasikala and the two relatives to surrender forthwith to the trial court in Bengaluru and serve the remaining part of four-year term.

Sasikala, who broke down on hearing the court verdict, held discussions with senior party leaders and MLAs and expelled Panneerselvam along with 20 other rebel leaders. "The 15- day time period given by the governor to Edappadi Palanisamy to prove his majority will lead to horse trading", he said.

"If she has a plan B-projecting somebody else for the post of Chief Minister, she - will not succeed", Palaniswamy said.

"In view of Wednesday's clashes between the cadres of the party's two factions when Sasikala came from Chennai by road, we have made a decision to restrict the entry of people to the prison to prevent any untoward incident", said a police official.

On the other hand, the AIADMK MLAs of Sasikala camp have been once again lodged at the Golden Bay Resort in Kuvathur.

Palaniswami, a known Sasikala loyalist and a five-time MLA, is the party's strongman from Salem district and now holds the portfolios of Highways, Public Works and Minor Ports.

The AIADMK said on Twitter that the "vote of confidence" would take place on Saturday.

In response, as AIADMK general secretary, Sasikala suspended Mr Panneerselvam from the party.

Ahead of the Supreme Court verdict, Ms Sasikala, 61, spent the night at the five-star Golden Bay Resort resort in Mahabalipuram, 80 km from Chennai, along with about 120 legislators whom she has sequestered for nearly a week. Apparently, Sasikala who appeared in the political field following the suspicious death of Jayalalithaa is eager to take revenge on both Jayalalithaa and CM Panneer Selvam, whom the former picked to be the acting CM instead of Sasikala. Jayalalithaa herself was identified as the main accused but was spared explicit ignominy because she had passed away.



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