Ailing chief minister of south Indian state gives up powers

Ailing chief minister of south Indian state gives up powers

October 13, 2016
All Congress party Vice President, Rahul Gandhi addresses the media after visiting Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa at a hospital in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, in this file photo. — AFP
All Congress party Vice President, Rahul Gandhi addresses the media after visiting Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa at a hospital in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, in this file photo. — AFP

CHENNAI — The ailing chief minister of India's southern Tamil Nadu state has handed over all her responsibilities to her deputy, the state governor has said.

All Jayaram Jayalalithaa’s portfolios were transferred to OP Panneerselvam.
However, the statement clarifies that the arrangement will continue till Jayalalithaa resumes office and that she continues to be the chief minister.

Panneerselvam is viewed as a trusted aide of Jayalalithaa and has also donned the role briefly as chief minister in September 2001 and September 2014, when Jayalalithaa had to step down from her position as chief minister due to court rulings.

Governor Vidyasagar Rao’s statement said the transfer had been carried out on Jayalalithaa’s “express wishes”. It is being seen as another attempt to quell fears about her health.

Jayalalithaa has been in hospital since Sept. 22, and there has been a veil of secrecy over the extent of her illness, which has led to tension among her supporters in the state. There are concerns that her supporters could resort to violence and acts of self harm in the event of bad news.

On Tuesday, police in the state capital, Chennai (Madras), arrested two people for “spreading rumors” about her health.

Meanwhile, Jayalalithaa’s bitter rival and former chief minister of the state, M. Karunanidhi, expressed his doubts over the official statement.

Several leaders, including the governor, Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, federal minister M. Venkaiah Naidu and others, were not allowed to see or wish Jayalalithaa in person when they visited the Apollo Hospitals where she is undergoing treatment.

However, it is amazing that the statement issued by the governor on Tuesday said the reallocation of the portfolios had been done based on the advice of Jayalalithaa,” said Karunanidhi in a statement.

The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief said one could not entirely overlook the doubt as to whether the acting governor had analyzed the various provisions of the Constitution in a short span of time.


October 13, 2016
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