Chennai: All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) legislators on Sunday announced the name of O Paneerselvam as the new Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu to succeed the jailed J Jayalalithaa, who Saturday began serving a four-year prison sentence for corruption.
Panneerselvam, 63, who once ran a tea stall which is still with his family, once become the chief minister in similar circumstances in 2001 and held the post until Jayalalithaa bounced back.
The unanimous decision on Panneerselvam came hours after he and a few AIADMK leaders met Jayalalithaa at the Bangalore Central Jail and she told them to elect a new leader quickly to "assuage the hurt feelings" of the thousands of party cadres in Tamil Nadu following her jailing.
Shortly after the announcement, Panneerselvam was today invited by Tamil Nadu Governor K Rosaiah to form a government.
According to a Raj Bhavan communique, Panneerselvam, who was Finance Minister in J Jayalalithaa's ministry and represents Bodinayakanur constituency in the state Assembly, met Rosaiah and submitted a letter and the resolution passed by the AIADMK legislators who chose him unanimously, a day after the party supremo was jailed in a graft case.
"Consequently, His Excellency the Governor has invited him to form the Ministry," it said without divulging details.
Panneerselvam's elevation comes a day after party supremo and CM J Jayalalithaa was convicted by a Special court which sentenced her to 4-year jail and fined Rs 100 crore in the Rs 66.65 crore illegal asset case. The sentencing also immediately disqualified her from being an MLA.
Jayalalithaa's close associate N Sasikala, her relatives VN Sudhakaran and Ilavarasi, who are the other accused in the case were also given four-year prison term and slapped a fine of Rs 10 crore each.
All the legislators were been asked to be present in todays meeting. Majority of the ministers of the Jayalalithaa ministry and MLAs had been in Bangalore since yesterday to know the outcome of the Special Court verdict.
Jaya spent her first night in Bangalore Central jail after being convicted in 18-year-old disproportionate case by a special court on Saturday.
According to reports, lawyers for jailed AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa will move the Karnataka High Court tomorrow for bail for her while they were also finalising a strategy for seeking a stay on her conviction and sentence in the disproportionate assets case.
"We will be filing a bail application in the Karnataka High Court tomorrow," B Kumar, Senior Counsel for the 66-year-old leader said, PTI reported.
But it may be taken up only on Tuesday when there is a scheduled hearing by a vacation bench because the high court will observe holidays from September 29 to August 6 for Dasara.
A battery of lawyers today were giving final touches to their legal strategy in seeking immediate relief for Jayalalithaa, who has been convicted by Special Judge John Michael D'Cunha and sentenced to four years imprisonment in the Rs 66.65 crore disproportionate assets case.
Since the sentencing was for a period more than three years, only the high court can grant bail in Jayalalithaa's case. Kumar said a team of lawyers were holding discussions on filing a petition seeking stay of conviction and also the sentence awarded to Jayalalithaa in the 18-year old case.
The criminal revision petition is one of the options before the lawyers who would like to secure an immediate stay on the conviction and the sentencing.
A stay on the conviction, which superior courts are said to be normally reluctant to grant in a corruption case, would nullify the disqualification as MLA which the AIADMK leader has suffered with yesterday's judgement.
Unless the conviction is overturned by a superior court, Jayalalithaa runs the risk of being barred from contesting elections for 10 years -- four years when she is in jail and six years after release.
Meanwhile, as per police, normalcy was returning to the state which witnessed sporadic violence in the aftermath of Jayalalithaa's conviction and sentencing. Bus services, suspended in many parts of the state, were being resumed in a phased manner though operations to Bangalore were still not being taken up.
Verdict not final, say AIADMK allies
Rallying behind beleaguered AIADMK supremo Jayalalithaa, two of her allies today said the Bangalore special court verdict convicting her in the disproportionate assets case was not final and expressed hope that she would emerge victorious.
"The verdict is not final and Chief Minister Jayalalithaa will break the barriers through appropriate legal procedures," All India Samathuva Makkal Katchi (AISMK) chief R Sarathkumar and Tamilaga Vazhvurimai Katchi President T Velmurugan said.
"The AIADMK will continue the welfare government under the able guidance of Jayalalithaa," they said in identical statements here.
Several smaller outfits such as "Kristhava Kazhagam" expressed similar views and solidarity.
Meanwhile, scores of AIADMK workers held a "hunger strike" at several locations in the state protesting the verdict.
DMDK leader calls on Guv over law & order situation in TN
DMDK, the main opposition party in Tamil Nadu Assembly, today expressed concern over 'deterioration' of law and order in the state following Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa's conviction in an illegal assets case and urged Governor K Rosiah to 'restore the rule of law.' DMDK founder and Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Vijayakant met the Governor and presented a memorandum to him in this regard.
In the memorandum, Vijayakant, an ally of NDA, expressed concern over the law and order situation and referred to "visible reports" of AIADMK supporters "indulging in violence," targeting opposition leaders and their residences besides damaging public property.
Stating that there was a 'lurking fear' in the minds of people, he said, "We request your Excellency to instill confidence in the hearts of the people and restore the rule of law. We are sure that you will intervene and ensure the peaceful atmosphere in Tamil Nadu immediately," he said.
Later he told reporters that he sought protection for leaders of opposition parties. On Saturday, AIADMK workers indulged in stone-pelting and torched buses at several places in the state following the conviction of Jayalalithaa.
(With Agencies Inputs)