The Tamil Nadu government has become so insouciant that Chief Minister Eddapady Panneerselvam refuses to step down even after the Madras High Court ordered the CBI to inquire into irregularities in the tender process followed by the State highways department, a portfolio held by him. The AIADMK has been heading a government without majority support in the Assembly but propped up by the BJP. It has earned the reputation of being the most corrupt in the Indian Union.
Nothing moves in the State secretariat without greasing the palms of the babus who in turn claim that they have been given targets to collect by their political masters. Palaniswamy will go down in history as the only Chief Minister in the country clinging on to office even after the High Court ordering an inquiry into his corrupt practices. His role model and mentor J Jayalalitha, a former Chief Minister, stepped down from office only after courts of law had convicted her of corruption.
There is no need to guess the outcome of the preliminary inquiry conducted by the Vigilance Commissioner, who is under the supervision of the Chief Minister. “It does not need the wisdom of Solomon to infer that right from the receipt of the complaint and registration of the preliminary inquiry, the conduct of DV and AC had been aimed with the sole objective of closing the case by filing a negative report as no case made out,” observed the High Court. The manner in which the inquiry was conducted without even calling the complainant speaks for itself that the investigation was not done in a fair and proper manner.
After the death of Jayalalitha, the AIADMK had split into three groups. Two groups, one led by Palaniswamy and the other by O Panneerselvam, deputy chief minister, together having the support of 109 MLAs in the 234-member Assembly, have been running the government for the last year and a half. The third group, led by TTV Dinakaran, has the popular support of the people and 18 AIADMK MLAs. The Speaker of the Assembly disqualified their Assembly membership for expressing no confidence in the Chief Minister.
Eleven members of the Panneerselvam group voted against the Palaniswami government in a no-confidence motion. They are not disqualified. The Madras High Court on 25 October upheld the Speaker’s order. It gives the government a working majority. Two seats were already vacant, Tiruvarur and Thirupprankundram. Realising their lack of support among the people, the ruling AIADMK has been fighting shy of contesting bi-elections for the two seats. With the 25 October order of the High Court, 18 more seats have fallen vacant. A party which could not face two bi-elections will now have to face 20 bi-elections to remain in power. The High Court order is only a pyrrhic victory for Palaniswami.