Sasikala may step aside for a loyalist, even as OPS gains strength: report

The political crisis in Tamil Nadu following the demise of AIADMK supremo and chief minister J Jayalalithaa worsened after the present claimant to the chair V K Sasikala saw her support in the party thinning with more legislators moving to chief minister O Panneerselvam's camp.

Governor Vidyasagar Rao also delayed a decision in the fast-changing political scenario.

The latest to join the Panneerselvam camp is Sasikala loyalist and school education minister "Ma Foi" K Pandiarajan who came out in support of acting chief minister O Panneerselvam (OPS). Until a day before yesterday, Pandiarajan had been criticising OPS for his revolt.

On the other hand, Sasikala wrote to the Tamil Nadu governor Vidyasagar Rao to seek an audience with him.

In a letter to Rao, copies of which were issued to the media, Sasikala said acting chief minister O Panneerselvam has resigned from his post and the same was accepted by the governor a week ago.

Sasikala, meanwhile, had a meeting with AIADMK MLAs at their special camp following which security has been tightened at Raj Bhavan.

Unconfirmed sources hint that Sasikala may step aside for a loyalist so that she could still cling on to power without being in power. Two names, K A Sengottaiyan and Edappadi K Palanisamy, are doing the rounds for the chief minister's position.

The squabble for chief ministership has pushed the fifth most industrialised state of the country towards the brink of political instability. Without a CM in office the state faces a constitutional crisis on how to decide who the new person would be.

Meanwhile, the Election Commission of India has reportedly highlighted the impropriety in the election of Sasikala as an interim AIADMK general secretary, because such a position does not exist in the party's organisational structure.

The lack of charismatic leadership after M G Ramachandran and J Jayalalithaa and the arrival of late Jayalalithaa's niece Deepa Jayakumar, who many feel could inherit her paternal aunt's political office have only helped to worsen the divide in the ruling AIADMK party.

The late Jayalalithaa nominally appointed O Paneerselvam twice in her absence to manage the government and administration - but the AIADMK has not accepted it fully. He could never inherit her charisma nor possess her mass appeal that largely evolved through her proximity to MGR.

The alternative is DMK stalwart M Karunanidhi, but he has now appointed his son Stalin as working president.

For all practical purposes Tamil Nadu is leaderless and something has to evolve to avoid president's rule in the state.