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Palaniswami Is AIADMK Legislature Party Leader, O Panneerselvam Expelled

In fast paced developments, Sasikala loyalist Edappady K Palaniswami was on Tuesday elected as Legislature Party Leader following the conviction of the AIADMK general secretary, who sacked rebel leader O Panneerselvam from the party's primary membership

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In fast paced developments, Sasikala loyalist Edappady K Palaniswami was on Tuesday (February 14) elected as Legislature Party Leader following the conviction of the AIADMK general secretary, who sacked rebel leader O Panneerselvam from the party's primary membership.

"We have sent a letter staking claim to form Amma's government," said Palaniswami.

His election came at an emergency meeting called by Sasikala at a resort near Chennai within hours of the Supreme Court upholding a Bengaluru trial court order convicting her in the disproportionate assets case, dealing a body blow to her hopes of becoming the Chief Minister.

Palaniswami, a known Sasikala loyalist and a five-time MLA, is the party's strongman from Salem district and currently holds the portfolios of highways, public works and minor ports.

He was minister in the previous Jayalalithaa-led cabinet also and continued with the same portfolios.

He was retained in 2016, both by Jayalalithaa and later by her successor Panneerselvam, who has since raised a banner of revolt against Sasikala for allegedly forcing him to step down from chief ministership.

Minutes after after the apex court delivered the verdict, Sasikala went into a huddle with her MLAs to decide on the future course of action.

Security has been strengthened across the state after the verdict.

Police presence has been stepped up at the resort, about 80 kms from Chennai, where MLAs supporting her are housed since the past few days. Sasikala herself stayed overnight at the resort.

The apex court on Tuesday quashed the Karnataka High Court verdict that had acquitted Sasikala in the disproportionate assets case and asked her to surrender herself forthwith.

Sasikala was elected AIADMK Legislature Party Leader on February 5, paving the way for her becoming Chief Minister.

Two days later, Pannerselvam rebelled against her.

Sasikala on Tuesday sacked Panneerselvam, who has been continuing as caretaker Chief Minister, from the AIADMK's primary membership.

Palaniswami asserted he has been chosen "unanimously" by party legislators.

The meeting to elect the new legislature party leader was chaired by Sasikala.

"I have sent a letter to Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao staking claim to form government. After Governor invites me, I will give him the official paper of my election signed by the legislators," Palaniswami said.

The AIADMK leader was speaking to reporters at the resort.

Palaniswami said he was elected unanimously and that party treasurer and forests minister Dindigul C Srinivasan announced his unanimous election as Legislature party leader.

Panneerselvam Camp Rejects Palaniswami's Election
Meanwhile, an unfazed O Panneerselvam camp on Tuesday rejected the appointment of Sasikala loyalist Edappady K Palaniswami as AIADMK Legislature Party leader.

"Nobody has the authority to elect anybody," was the terse response from School Education Minister K Pandiarajan, a supporter of Panneerselvam.

He was responding to reporters' queries to Palaniswami being elected the Legislature Party leader, hours after the Supreme Court upheld a trial court verdict against AIADMK General Secretary Sasikala in a disproportionate assets case.


(PTI)