With Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa being confined to a hospital bed at Apollo Hospital in Chennai for nearly twenty days now, and expected to stay on for longer, her portfolios in the cabinet have been reallocated to Finance Minister O Panneerselvam. The 68-year-old leader will, however, continue to be the Chief Minister.
On Tuesday, a press release from Raj Bhavan stated that, "Under Clause(3) of Article 166 of the Constitution of India, His Excellency the Governor of Tamil Nadu today allocated the subjects hirtherto dealt with by Hon'ble Chief Minister Selvi J Jayalalithaa, to Thiru O Panneerselvam Ministor for Finance, Personnel and Administrative Reforms."
Clause (3) of Aritcle 166 of the Constitution of India states,
"The Governor shall make rules for the more convenient transaction of the business of the Government of the State, and for the allocation among Ministers of the said business in so far as it is not business with respect to which the Governor is by or under this Constitution required to act in his discretion"
The release, issued by the Principal Secretary to Governor also stated that Panneerselvam will preside over the Cabinet Meetings. It also noted that the arrangement has been made as per the advice of the CM and will continue until Jayalalithaa resumes her duties.
Jayalalithaa was Minister in charge for Public, IAS, IPS, IFS, General Administration, District Revenue Officers, Police and Home.
The move comes days after BJP leader Subramanian Swamy wrote to Home Minister Rajnath asking the centre to impose President’s rule in Tamil Nadu till Jayalalithaa is back in her seat.
There was intense speculation that the cabinet or legislature party may choose a senior most minister to act as a Deputy CM or Acting CM. Last Friday, Governor Vidyasagar Rao met with Chief Secretary Rama Mohana Rao and ministers O Panneerselvam and Edappadi Palanisamy at the Raj Bhavan.
Though party leaders and bureaucrats say they are confident of Jayalalithaa’s return as Chief Minister, there are murmurs within the party over who will take over, if her condition prevents her from doing so.
What still remains unanswered is whether Jayalalithaa is medically fit to discharge her duties as the constitutional head. Though her portfolios have been reallocated, certain decision can be taken only with the Chief Minister’s consent.