Chennai: Opposition leaders in Tamil Nadu on Wednesday questioned how the ailing Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa told the Governor to allocate her portfolios to Finance Minister O. Panneerselvam.
DMK President M. Karunanidhi said it was a wonder that Governor Ch. Vidyasagar Rao handed over the portfolios handled by Jayalalithaa, 68, to Panneerselvam based on her advice.
In a statement, Karunanidhi said Jayalalithaa was in the hospital for the past 19 days and several leaders were not allowed to meet her when they went to the Apollo Hospital here. Given this situation, the statement from Raj Bhavan on Tuesday that the reallocation of the portfolios was based on the advice of Jayalalithaa was a wonder, he said.
According to a Raj Bhavan statement of Tuesday, the Governor, under Clause (3) of the Constitution’s Article 166, allocated the subjects dealt with by Jayalalithaa to Panneerselvam on her advice. Jayalalithaa held the portfolios of Public, Indian Administrative Service, Indian Police Service, Indian Forest Service, General Administration, District Revenue Officers and Home.
Panneerselvam will also preside over the cabinet meetings. “This arrangement has been made as per the advice of Chief Minister and will continue until the Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa resumes her duties. Jayalalithaa will continue to be the Chief Minister,” the Raj Bhavan said.
Jayalalithaa was admitted to the hospital on September 22 with fever and dehydration. The doctors later said she needed a longer stay as she was suffering from infection and put her on respiratory support. As she was being treated for infection and was on respiratory support, no visitor was allowed inside her room or to interact with her.
The visiting VIPs are briefed by the doctors and AIADMK leaders in the hospital. PMK founder S. Ramadoss said that based on the medical bulletins issued by the hospital, it was evident that barring the doctors no one else was allowed to meet her. “She is also on respiratory support,” he said citing the medical bulletins. He wondered how she communicated her advice on portfolio change given this situation.
On Tuesday, Congress state unit President S. Thirunavukkarasar told IANS that the reallocation of the portfolios “is a welcome development”. He said the situation was similar to the one that existed when AIADMK founder, the late M.G. Ramachandran (MGR), was admitted to the same Apollo Hospital in October 1984.
Senior AIADMK leader C. Ponnaiyan told IANS that the portfolios handled by MGR were then allocated to V.R. Nedunchezian. According to Ponnaiyan, MGR in 1984 had orally instructed that his portfolios were to be handled by Nedunchezhiyan. “As per the rules, the Chief Minister can orally tell any one or more cabinet colleagues to handle the portfolios. This is the practice followed across the country,” he said. The AIADMK has ruled out the need for an acting or temporary Chief Minister.
Panneerselvam had earlier served as Chief Minister when Jayalalithaa had to step down in wake of her conviction by a Bengaluru court in a corruption case. She returned to the post after the Karnataka High Court acquitted her. Officials expect Panneerselvam to visit the Secretariat on Thursday.