Ending suspense and speculations over Tamil Nadu’s governance, the portfolios held by Chief Minister J.Jayalalithaa, who is currently in hospital, have been allocated to state Finance Minister O.Panneerselvam, a Raj Bhavan statement said on Tuesday.
According to the statement, Governor Ch.Vidyasagar Rao has, under Clause (3) of the Constitution’s Article 166, allocated the subjects hitherto 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, Police and Home.
Panneerselvam will also preside over the cabinet meetings.
“This arrangement has been made as per the advice of Hon’ble Chief Minister and will continue until the Hon’ble Chief Minister Selvi J Jayalalithaa resumes her duties. Selvi J Jayalalithaa will continue to be the Chief Minister,” the Raj Bhavan statement said.
The 68-year-old Jayalalithaa was admitted to the hospital on September 22 for fever and dehydration.
The doctors later said she needed a longer stay at the hospital as she was suffering from infection and put her on respiratory support.
On October 8, the hospital said: “The respiratory support is closely watched and adjusted. Lungs decongestion treatment is being continued. All other comprehensive measures including nutrition, supportive therapy and passive physiotherapy are under way.”
The ruling AIADMK has ruled out the need for an acting or temporary chief minister. Panneerselvam has earlier served as Chief Minister when Jayalalithaa had to step down in wake of her conviction in a corruption by a Bengaluru court. She had returned to the post after the Karnataka High Court acquitted her.
Reacting to the development, Congress’ state unit president S.Thirunavukkarasar told IANS that it “is a welcome development for the continued functioning of the government”.
He said the situation is similar to the one that existed when AIADMK founder, the late M.G. Ramachandran (MGR) was admitted to the same Apollo Hospitals in October 1984.
Leader of Opposition in the assembly, DMK’s M.K.Stalin too welcomed the Governor’s decision.
In a statement issued here, Stalin said the state has to handle several problems and there should be a ministry and it should have a head to take important decisions.
Speaking to IANS, political commentator Maalan Narayanan said in 1984, the then Governor Sundar Lal Khurana asked then Finance Minister V.R.Nedunchezhiyan to preside over the cabinet meetings and not to take any policy decision.
Senior AIADMK leader C.Ponnaiyan told IANS that the portfolios handled by MGR were allocated to Nedunchezian.
According to Ponnaiyan, in 1984, MGR had instructed orally that his portfolios are 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.
According to him there is no provision in the Constitution for an acting Chief Minister.