There have been reports that the stand-in governor of Tamil Nadu is evaluating legal opinion before he decides to invite either Chief Minister O Panneerselvam or AIADMK interim general secretary Sasikala to form the next government in the state. Many have accused the Governor Vidyasagar Rao of delaying his decision. It is a straight forward case and all the governor needs to do is invite one of them to prove their strength on the floor of the house.
Sources say that Rao wants to find a permanent solution to the problem and does not want the state to erupt in turmoil again. Any decision on who would be invited to form the government would come only after the Supreme Court verdict which is expected any time next week.
The Raj Bhavan feels that if Sasikala is sworn in and the SC convicts her in the disproportionate assets case, then there would be a vacuum once again. This would mean finding a chief minister all over again Legal and Constitutional experts say that this is a straight forward case for the governor. He has to apply the formula in the S R Bommai case which mandates a floor test.
The governor has been citing various reasons to keep his decision on hold. Source based information suggests that he wanted to verify the signatures of AIADMK MLAs who have supported Sasikala. Further he has also said that there are consultations with legal experts on.
Instead of verifying the signatures, all the governor needed to do was call for a floor test. It would have become amply clear whether OPS or Sasikala had the support. The floor of the house is the final deciding place for any candidate to stake a claim to the post of chief minister. Highly-placed sources in Delhi say that there is a clear indication that the SC will deliver its verdict by next week.
"We were expecting the verdict to be out on Monday, but since one of the judges on the Bench is not sitting that day, it has been postponed. We expect it by Tuesday at least," the source also said. Karnataka the prosecuting state had reminded the court that the verdict needs to be pronounced since it has been reserved for nearly eight months now.
If Sasikala is held guilty and the SC upholds the trial court verdict which had sentenced her to 4 years imprisonment, then she would be barred from contesting an election for the next 10 years as per the Representation of Peoples' Act. If she becomes CM and then is convicted, the AIADMK would have to hunt for another CM candidate all over again. Rao appears to be trying to avoid such a scenario and hence there is a delay, sources indicate.