The Governor of Tamilnadu has recently allocated the portfolios of the Chief Minister Ms J Jayalalitha to Mr O Paneerselvam minister for Finance following her hospitalisation. This arrangement has been made under Article 166 clause (3) of the constitution and as per the advice of the Chief Minister. The arrangement will continue till the Chief Minister is able to resume her duties and the Chief Minister will continue in office as Chief Minister without Portfolio.
Many political leaders have visited the hospital and and all of them have said that they have been unable to meet the Chief Minister and have only been able to converse with the doctors treating her. This implies that she is under isolation for medical reasons.
Further the Chief Secretary and Mr O Paneerselvam Minister for Finance and Mr Edappadi Palaniswamy Minister for Public Works had met the Governor on 07.10.2016 and in a press statement issued by the Governor’s office it was informed that the meeting was related to the Cauvery issue. There has been no further meetings with the Governor by either the Chief Secretary or senior Ministers.
The recent press statements of Apollo Hospitals clearly mention that the Chief Minister is in need of constant monitoring by intensivists and requires respiratory support. Thus it is quite clear the Chief Minister is in no position to tender advice.
This now raises the question as to whether the Chief Minister was fit enough to tender advice and if so in what form (oral or written )was the advice rendered and how it was communicated to the Governor. There is a distinct possibility that somebody has usurped the powers of the Chief Minister and made this sensitive decision. Thus it is the responsibility of the Governor to transparently state how this communication regarding the advice of the Chief Minister to re allocate her Portfolios and entrust the responsibility to convene Cabinet Meetings to Mr O Pannerselvam was received by the Governor from the Chief Minister.
When a Minister is allocated the portfolios which are usually the responsibility of the Chief Minister it makes the person de facto Chief Minister of the state. We would also like to state that the Home portfolio has always been the responsibility of the Chief Minister in this state for the past fifty years. Thus a political decision has sought to be presented as an administrative action and the Governor willingly or unwillingly has been party to it.
The appropriate constitutional manner to make any decision in this current situation is for the Chief Minister to ensure the election of an interim leader of the AIADMK Legislature party. This will place the decision beyond reproach.
We hope the Governor will advice the Chief minister in this regard and uphold the Constitution.