news Friday, May 22, 2015 - 05:30
It was a mere formality when the AIADMK Legislature Party meeting at Chennai on Friday morning took less than 15 minutes to elect J Jayalalithaa as its leader. Jayalalithaa’s return as Tamil Nadu’s Chief Minister was a foregone conclusion. O Panneerselvam has stepped down as the Chief Minister after he submitted his resignation at the Raj Bhavan on Friday morning. Once sworn in as the Chief Minister, what will Jayalalithaa’s first set of actions be?  What role will O Paneerselvam play? Political circles in Chennai are abuzz with news that Jayalalithaa is unhappy with one of her main loyalists over a controversy related to sand quarrying being undertaken by O Paneerselvam’s kin. Though OPS as he is known, has met Jayalalithaa quite a few times after her acquittal on May 11, sources say that there is much anticipation in the party about the role he will play in his return to the cabinet. Before Jayalalithaa was disqualified as MLA in September 2014, OPS was the Finance Minister of Tamil Nadu. However, sources add that OPS, a leader close to Jayalalithaa, and who has proven his loyalty many times, will find a way to get back into Amma’s good books. Jayalalithaa with O Panneerselvam after a budget session Cabinet reshuffle? Jayalalithaa is expected to make few changes in her cabinet and shunt out almost half a dozen ministers. More welfare schemes? One of the first announcements that Jayalalithaa is expected to make will be in connection with the families of those who were killed in an encounter by Andhra Pradesh police. The new Chief Minister is likely to announce jobs for kin of the slain men. Sources say that Jayalalithaa will also announce a slew of new Amma canteens and Amma pharmacies in the state. One big announcement that she is still mulling over is a reduction in the number of TASMAC (Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation) outlets in the state - a company through which the TN govt has complete monopoly over wholesale and retail sale of alcohol. Though liquor has been the highest revenue earner for the state, the government has faced much criticism and resentment, from women voters, over the increase in alcoholism made easy by ample access to TASMAC outlets. A party that has traditionally depended on its sizeable women vote bank in the state, the AIADMK now believes that one way of reaching out and winning over some disenchanted women votes would be by reducing the number of TASMAC liquor outlets .