Tamil Nadu Governor C Vidyasagar Rao on late Tuesday handed over all the portfolios held by Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa to state finance minister and former chief minister O Panneerselvam. Such arrangements have been made by Jayalalithaa, who will continue to be the chief minister.
Panneerselvam will also preside over cabinet meeting and will handle these portfolios until the chief minister recovers and resumes work in office.
Jayalalithaa has been undergoing treatment for a variety of ailments at Apollo Hospital in Chennai for close to three weeks now, raising the question of who is discharging the duties of the state that she was otherwise handling. That question became even more pertinent when it became apparent that her stay at the hospital would not be a short one.
Jayalalithaa had so far been holding the Public Department, IAS, IPS, IFS, General Administration, District Revenue Officers, Police and Home portfolios, which were on Tuesday allocated to Panneerselv, who previously served as the chief minister of Tamil Nadu when Amma was in jail over the disproportionate assets case.
It was only after that case was dismissed that Jayalalithaa sought re-election and eventually became chief minister of the state for a fifth time. Now, with Panneerselvam getting these portfolios, he will enjoy powers similar to what he had tasted as the chief minister of the state, at least until Jayalalithaa recovers and resumes work.
The decision by the AIADMK has come in the backdrop of Tamil Nadu Governor Rao calling last week some of key leaders from the government and the state chief secretary for a meeting to know about the administrative affairs in Jayalalithaa's absence. However, it has also got speculators going into overdrive over the true nature of Jayalalithaa's ailments and whether this move was in preparation of the eventuality of her demise.
In the meanwhile, M Karunanidhi, who heads the main Opposition party in Tamil Nadu -- the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) -- had said earlier on Tuesday that the state government lacked "proper direction" with Jayalalithaa still in hospital. The DMK had also requested the governor and the Central government to take appropriate action in this regard.