Home/ Politics / Policy/  Jayalalithaa in jail, O. Panneerselvam named Tamil Nadu chief minister

Chennai: Tamil Nadu finance minister O. Panneerselvam was on Sunday named chief minister of the southern state, taking over from J. Jayalalithaa for the second time in his career, a day after a Bangalore court sentenced her to four years in jail in a corruption case.

Panneerselvam, a Jayalalithaa loyalist, was named Tamil Nadu chief minister after a meeting of members of the legislative assembly (MLAs) in Chennai. Tamil Nadu governor K.Rosaiah later invited him to form the government after the 63-year-old called on him with a list of his proposed council of ministers.

The government will be sworn in on Monday.

With Jayalalithaa’s conviction and the four-year jail sentence on Saturday disqualifying her from being an MLA, Panneerselvam also gave the governor his own name as the chief minister-elect, as required by the Constitution.

This is Panneerselvam’s second stint as Tamil Nadu chief minister: he occupied the top job for six months in September 2011 when Jayalalithaa was disqualified by Supreme Court in a land deal case, stepping down in March 2012 after she was acquitted.

“Panneerselvam has always been an ‘Amma’ loyalist and that’s the reason she gave him important portfolios of finance and public works," said a senior member of All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) who did not want to be named.

Jayalalithaa was sentenced to four years in prison and fined 100 crore by a special court in Bangalore on Saturday. The length of the jail sentence immediately disqualified Jayalalithaa from remaining an MLA, making her the first serving chief minister to lose her post and be sent to jail.

Along with Jayalalithaa, her close aides Sasikala Natarajan, J.Ilavarasi and disowned foster son V.N. Sudhakaran were sentenced to four years in prison and fined 10 crore each.

Special judge John Michael D’Cunha convicted the 66-year-old AIADMK chief, finding her guilty of owning disproportionate assets to the tune 66.65 crore in a case dating back to 1991-96, during her first term as chief minister of Tamil Nadu.

Convicted under the Prevention of Corruption Act, Jayalalithaa has decided to approach the Karnataka high court for bail before considering filing a petition seeking a stay of her conviction as well as the sentence. Since Jayalalithaa has been sentenced to a period of more than three years, only the high court can grant her bail. If, however, Jayalalithaa is granted a stay on the conviction, it would nullify her disqualification as MLA.

Jayalalithaa’s senior counsel B. Kumar said on Sunday, “We will be filing a bail application in the Karnataka high court tomorrow."

However, the matter may be taken up only on Tuesday when there is scheduled hearing by a vacation bench because the high court will be on vacation from 29 September to 6 October for Dussehra.

Unless the conviction is overturned by a higher court, Jayalalithaa runs the risk of being barred from contesting elections for 10 years—four years while she is in jail and six after release. Under a Supreme Court judgement of last year, an MLA or member of Parliament (MP)is automatically disqualified if he or she is convicted and imprisoned for two years or more.

Before this judgement, Section 8(4) of the Representation of People Act, which was struck down by the Supreme Court, protected an elected representative from disqualification if they appealed before a higher court within three months.

Meanwhile, normal life returned to Chennai and most parts of Tamil Nadu on Sunday after angry protests by AIADMK workers on Saturday.

Shops that were forced to close by AIADMK party workers opened on Sunday morning. Private companies, multiplexes and shopping malls had closed due to the rampage and violence of the AIADMK party men. AIADMK and rival Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) partymen clashed in Madurai and in front of rival DMK party chief M.Karunanidhi’s home.

Chennai police on Sunday registered a case against Karunanidhi, his son and party treasurer M.K. Stalin and several others for allegedly attacking a group of AIADMK workers near Gopalapuram immediately after Saturday’s court verdict, following allegations by AIADMK party workers.

After the judgment, AIADMK members in Chennai burnt effigies of Karunanidhi and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Subramanian Swamy, who had filed the disproportionate assets case against Jayalalithaa in 1996.

The party workers went on a rampage, pelting stones and forcing shops to shut down.

There were incidents of violence across Tamil Nadu.

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Updated: 29 Sep 2014, 08:51 AM IST
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