Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and Sasikala loyalist Edappadi K Palaniswami will convene his first cabinet meeting later today, according to a report. The Palaniswami government had won the confidence vote in the Tamil Nadu Assembly on February 18 by a comfortable 122-11 margin after high drama and bedlam in the House. The vote was preceded by eviction of principal opposition DMK and walkout by its allies, which have 98 legislators in the 234-member House, in protest. Former Chief Minister Panneerselvam could muster only 11 votes, ending the prolonged stalemate triggered by his rebellion and by conviction of AIADMK chief V K Sasikala after being elected the Legislature Party leader. Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao, while appointing Edappadi K Palaniswami as the chief minister after he was propped by Sasikala, had given him 15 days time to prove his majority. The vote was taken after two adjournments due to pandemonium and charges of attacks by DMK members. Speaker P Dhanapal and Leader of Opposition M K Stalin said their shirts were torn in the fracas in the House.
Palaniswami had also said with his government winning the confidence vote in the Assembly, the vow taken by AIADMK General Secretary V K Sasikala has been fulfilled. “The vow taken by our party’s General Secretary V K Sasikala has been fulfilled,” he had said as party cadres raised slogans “Chinnama Vaazhga!” at the MGR memorial, hailing Sasikala. He was apparently referring to Sasikala’s earlier assertion that Jayalalithaa’s government would continue in the state.
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A few days ago, Palaniswami had appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to immediately release relief funds for the drought-hit state and for the damage caused by Cyclone Vardah. Reiterating the state’s demand, Palaniswami sought Rs 39,565 crore as drought relief package and Rs 22,573 for the damage in the cyclone.
Speaking to reporters after meeting the Prime Minister, Palaniswami said, “We have also sought Rs 17,333 crore under various other central schemes.” The Chief Minister also put forth the demand to stop hydrocarbon extraction project in Neduvasal in Pudukkottai district that has attracted large-scale protests recently.
Palaniswami had also trashed speculations surrounding former AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa’s death amid frenetic calls from the opposition demanding a probe. In a statement to the media, the chief minister had said, “There’s no mystery over her death. People are just making an issue out of it.”
(With agency inputs)