Sasikala stakes claim, OPS sharpens attack Uddhav’s ministers likely to give him their resignations
TN CRISIS Caretaker CM says Amma’s Poes Garden home must be a memorial
The spotlight on Tamil Nadu’s political battle shifted to governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao as AIADMK general secretary VK Sasikala staked claim to form the government even as acting chief minister O Panneerselvam dug his heels in, saying “dharma” will triumph over intrigue. Panneerselvam and Sasikala, elected the AIADMK legislature party leader, met the governor separately at the Raj Bhavan although it was not immediately known what transpired in the meetings.
Panneerselvam, who was named CM after J Jayalalithaa’s death in December, quit on February 5, clearing the way for Sasikala’s elevation to the state’s top job. The governor accepted his resignation the next day, but on Wednesday Panneerselvam revolted, saying he was forced to resign and was willing to reconsider his decision.
The governor, who arrived in Chennai on Thursday, reportedly gave no assurance to either of the two. He is expected to consult legal experts and examine all claims before him, satisfy himself and then take a decision, sources said. The governor is understood to have sent a report to the Centre and President though he has not taken any decision. Speculation is also rife that the governor could take time to study the issue in depth, consult legal and constitutional experts and wait for the SC verdict on a disproportionate assets case in which Sasikala is an accused. According to sources, the verdict could come early next week.
With the Mumbai civic polls less than a fortnight away, the Shiv Sena is turning up the heat on its friend-turned-foe BJP by hinting at the mass resignation of its ministers, a move that would jolt the Devendra Fadnavis-led Maharashtra government.
Party sources said the Sena’s ministers in the state government may submit their resignation letters to their chief Uddhav Thackeray on February 18, the day of his last public address in Mumbai before the February 21 BMC polls. Party sources said the move is aimed at generating buzz among the Sena’s Marathi voters and at the same time creating a public perception that the party is capable of pulling down the BJP government in the state. “We need to send such a strong signal because we are in a close fight with the BJP in a number of electoral wards in Mumbai,” said a key Sena functionary.
The move is also being seen as a way to discourage the BJP from using its position in power to keep Sena workers under pressure from the local administration or the police, he said.
The Mumbai suburban collector asked the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (Mhada) to register police complaints against the owners of 53 Versova bungalows, including actor Kapil Sharma, who destroyed mangrove forests in their backyard to illegally expand their homes. The BMC has been directed to demolish illegal extensions over the next month.
Mhada, which owns the land, has to file FIRs at the local police station. HT had reported on January 9 that notices were sent to the bungalow owners regarding the illegal extensions, a violation under the Environment Protection Act (EPA), 1986. The bungalows, which line a onekm stretch, had been given two weeks to respond. While some responded, authorities were not happy with the explanations.
“In a meeting with the state mangrove cell, the BMC and a representative from Mhada on Wednesday, the final order was passed to BMC and Mhada to initiate action,” said Deependra Singh Kushwa, Mumbai suburban collector. He said the decision was taken after a probe that began in September. “We gave the residents ample opportunity to either rectify their stance by coming forward and destroying the illegal extensions or present us with relevant documents that allowed them to make those extensions. Since they failed, final action has now been initiated,” said Kushwa.