Thursday was a busy day for Tamil Nadu Governor Vidyasagar Rao. Minutes after he reached Chennai, he was ready at his residence for the first high profile meeting of the evening. O Panneerselvam, Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, was coming over to tell him what he had revealed to live cameras on Tuesday night - that he was forced to resign from his position, and that he should be allowed to continue as the CM.
When OPS reached the Governor’s residence on Thursday, along with party MP Maitreyan, AIADMK founding member PH Pandian, Presidium Chairman Madhusudhanan, and the MLAs who are supporting him, he had three important points to make to Vidyasagar Rao.
Sources have told TNM that the first thing OPS impressed on the Governor was that of the 130 signatures of MLAs that Sasikala had - many were forged. He insisted that not only were MLAs forced to sign under duress, some of the signatures were fake, rendering the document useless.
OPS quoted Article 190(3)b of the Constitution, which refers to resignations of a member of Parliament of Assembly. The clause says that the “Chairman or Speaker of the House” will not accept a resignation if there is doubt that the resignation was not voluntary. (Whether this clause is applicable to the Governor is not clear.)
OPS told the Governor that since these signatures were fake, he should not consider Sasikala’s claim of majority, and that a floor test was the only way forward to prove who had majority.
Panneerselvam also told the Governor that Sasikala should not be allowed to parade MLAs, sources said.
The second thing OPS told the Governor was that he was forced to sign the resignation letter, and since the signature was made under duress, he should be allowed to withdraw the resignation.
The third point from the OPS camp was made by MLA Shanmuganathan - the man who literally ran to OPS from the Sasikala camp. Shanmuganathan told the Governor that he was forced to sign a blank paper, and was being taken to Edapadi Palanisamy’s house without his consent.
While Governor Vidyasagar Rao told them that he will get legal opinion before getting back to them, sources have told TNM that on one point, he accepted OPS’s request: There will be no parading of MLAs.
Vidyasagar Rao’s meeting with OPS lasted around 15 minutes, but soon, he was getting ready for the other big meeting: Sasikala and her team had an appointment at 7.30pm.
While OPS had brought along MLAs and leaders who were supporting him, Sasikala came with several senior Ministers and her nephew, TTV Dinakaran. Dinakaran is not an MLA but a former MP, and the fact that he accompanied Sasikala - and was sitting next to her in the meeting with the Governor - did not go down too well with the people of Tamil Nadu.
Sasikala’s meeting with the Governor lasted 30 to 40 minutes. She told the Governor that she had the numbers and staked claim of the Chief Ministership of Tamil Nadu.
As she gave the letter of support with 130 signatures to the Governor, Sasikala apparently claimed that none of the signatures have been forged.
Addressing OPS’s claim, Sasikala told the Governor that the Speaker of the TN Assembly will authenticate the signatures.
Reportedly, after the meeting with all the Ministers, Sasikala also spoke to the Governor alone for a few minutes.
The Governor though, seems to have stuck to the same reply that he gave OPS. Vidyasagar Rao told Sasikala that he will have to get legal opinion from Constitutional experts, since he cannot dismiss OPS’s claims altogether. “I have to listen to both sides,” the Governor said, according to sources.
The jury is out on which side’s arguments will find more favour with the Tamil Nadu Governor.