Let the TN House Elect New Leader

The morally right course is fresh elec­tions

The Economic Times - - The Edit Page -

It is tempt­ing for the rul­ing party at the Cen­tre to fish in the trou­bled wa­ters of Tamil Nadu pol­i­tics and hope to come up with a catch, fol­low­ing Sasikala’s con­vic­tion by the Supreme Court and O Pan­neer­sel­vam’s claim to be chief min­is­ter be­ing con­tested by a Sasikala nom­i­nee. While that is a nat­u­ral po­lit­i­cal in­stinct, its ar­tic­u­la­tion can­not be at the ex­pense of the peo­ple of Tamil Nadu and their right to have a sta­ble, elected gov­ern­ment. The Cen­tre must in­struct the gov­er­nor — let us for­get the fic­tion that the gov­er­nor is an in­de­pen­dent agent ex­er­cis­ing his ju­di­cious dis­cre­tion over mul­ti­ple un­cer­tain­ties — and in­struct him to con­vene the Tamil Nadu assem­bly and ask it to elect a leader, whom he would ap­point as the next chief min­is­ter.

There is no need for the gov­er­nor to break his head over who should be asked to prove his ma­jor­ity in the House, Pan­neer­sel­vam or Palaniswami, hand-picked by Sasikala to hold the of­fice of chief min­is­ter on her be­half. Let the elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the peo­ple of Tamil Nadu di­rectly in­di­cate in whom they re­pose con­fi­dence to lead the state. Any other course would be a trav­esty of the peo­ple’s man­date. The peo­ple’s man­date went to a party leader whom the Supreme Court has found guilty of con­spir­ing to amass il­le­gal wealth. Sasikala’s con­vic­tion is for con­spir­ing not just with her fam­ily mem­bers but also with the late chief min­is­ter. Had Jay­alalithaa been alive, she would have had to not just re­sign but con­tem­plate the va­lid­ity of an elec­toral man­date that did not fac­tor in her cul­pa­bil­ity in amass­ing il­le­gal wealth. The demo­crat­i­cally most ap­po­site course is to hold fresh elec­tions straight away, rather than to in­flict on the peo­ple of Tamil Nadu the strag­gling legacy of a man­date whose le­git­i­macy has been drained out of it by the Supreme Court rul­ing.

While that would be the right thing to do, it would fall foul of tech­ni­cal pro­pri­ety, which de­mands, in the face of a live, elected House, to choose a chief min­is­ter from among the leg­is­la­tors. The gov­er­nor should let the leg­is­la­tors do pre­cisely that, with­out bat­ting for the Cen­tre.

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