All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) Legislative Party Chief Edappadi K Palaniswami, who has the backing of the jailed AIADMK leader V K Sasikala, will take oath as the Tamil Nadu chief minister on Thursday evening. The development comes after he was invited by the state's acting Governor C Vidyasagar Rao to form the government. Palaniswami has been given 15 days to prove his majority.
According to media reports, the swearing-in will happen at 4.30 pm at Raj Bhavan. Palaniswami will be the 21st chief minister of Tamil Nadu.
Tamil Nadu's MLAs and ministers have stayed away from their offices for eight days in a row due to the political crisis in the state, which has resulted in the state's administration grinding to a halt.
The governor's decision on the issue had been pending as the verdict in the disproportionate assets case against AIADMK general secretary Sasikala, who was a claimant to the chief minister's chair, was due to be announced by the Supreme Court. Since the apex court delivered its verdict on Tuesday, restoring Sasikala's conviction and sentence, her hopes of occupying the top seat have been shattered.
Earlier in the day, Palaniswami's chances of becoming the chief minister had looked bright, since he was backed by Sasikala and claimed the majority support from AIADMK MLAs.
On Wednesday, Sasikala and two of her relatives surrendered in a Bengaluru court to serve the remaining three years, 10 months and 27 days sentence in a Karnataka prison.
Before she left Chennai, Sasikala appointed her sister's son T T V Dinakaran, who was dismissed by late chief minister J Jayalalithaa, as the party's deputy secretary. The position had been vacant for nearly 17 years.
Sasikala's nominee, Palaniswami, and her rival, chief minister O Panneerselvam, had called on the governor again on Wednesday. During his meeting with the governor, Palaniswami had stressed on his claim to form the government since he had the majority support of the party's MLAs.
While Palaniswami claims he has the support of 120, of the 124, AIADMK MLAs, Panneerselvam has the support of only nine MLAs and 12 MPs. To form the government, the aspirant should have at least 117 MLAs.
Panneerselvam and his supporters, who also met the governor on Wednesday evening, had urged the latter to conduct a floor test and they had reiterated that they would prove that they have the majority.
The governor had also been advised by Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi to convene a special session of the Legislative Assembly within a week for holding a composite floor test.
Meanwhile, at Kuvathur village, where the AIADMK MLAs are staying, the police once again conducted enquiries on Thursday morning and said that the MLAs were staying at the resort of their own free will. Further, the MLAs spoke to the media and said they had not been forced to stay at the resort. "On our own interest and on own expenses we are staying," said a lady MLA.
Police department and revenue department officials met the MLAs individually to record their statements.