The Tamil Nadu government’s Cabinet meeting on Wednesday was held under the leadership of Tamil Nadu Finance Minister O Panneerselvam in the absence of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, who has been undergoing treatment at Apollo Hospitals here since September 22.
Last week, Tamil Nadu Governor Vidyasagar Rao had allotted the portfolios held by Jayalalithaa to Panneerselvam, till she could resume official duties. The governor also said that Cabinet meetings would be presided over by Panneerselvam.
Panneerselvam chaired the meeting with Jayalalithaa’s photo in front of him. This is the first Cabinet meeting since he got the portfolios held by the ailing chief minister, which include Home and Police. This was the third meeting of the Cabinet after the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam won the Assembly elections in May. The first Cabinet meet was held under Jayalalithaa on May 23, soon after the swearing-in, followed by another meeting in July ahead of the state Budget.
Panneerselvam, her trusted aide, had filled in for her on two earlier occasions when she was unseated for a brief period. The last occasion was when she was convicted in a disproportionate assets case last year – Panneerselvam held the fort till the Karnataka High Court acquitted her of all charges. At that time, he was sworn in as CM. This time around, it was a simple transfer of portfolios as temporary charge.
There was no official communication from the Tamil Nadu
government about the meeting, except for a picture. Sources said that during the one-hour meeting, the Cauvery
water dispute was discussed. Tamil Nadu
is locked in a legal battle with its neighbour over release of water to the state. Opposition parties in the state have been demanding an all-party meeting
to discuss the Cauvery
issue. The Opposition has been alleging that a report submitted by the Cauvery
high-level technical committee in the Supreme Court did not address Tamil Nadu’s concerns adequately. On Tuesday, the Tamil Nadu
government had sought permission from the Supreme Court to submit its objections to the report.
Among the other issues that were discussed at the meeting
was appointment of special officers for governing local bodies, sources said.
The Election Commission of India has announced byelections in Aravakurichi, Thanjavur and Thiruparankundram Assembly seats. Notably, minutes after the Cabinet
released the candidate list for these constituencies. AIADMK
nominated V Senthil Balaji for Aravakurichi, M Rangasamy for Thanjavur and A K Bose for Thiruparankundram.
also discussed the issue of land allotment to investors, who signed a memorandum of understanding with the government during the Global Investors’ Meet in September last year.
Jayalalithaa, 68, was admitted to the hospital last month after she complained of fever and dehydration.