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It was in that sense Mr. Palaniswami was not a popularly elected Chief Minister like MGR or J Jayalalithaa.

NANGUNERI: Clarifying his ‘accidental CM’ ascription to the AIADMK co-coordinator, Mr Edappadi K Palaniswami, which drew sharp criticisms from the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, the opposition leader and DMK president M K Stalin said the leadership succession tussle after the tragic demise of former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa in December 2016 shows that Mr. Palaniswami was not a ‘popular choice’ for the Chief Minister’s post.

Mr. Palaniswami became the Chief Minister more by default, after his predecessor Mr. O. Pannerselvam who was sworn-in CM soon after Ms. Jayalalithaa’s demise, had fallen out of favour of the ruling AIADMK powers-that-be (without mentioning Sasikala by name), “just because he (OPS) smiled at me in the Assembly,” Stalin said here on Tuesday, campaigning for the DMK ally, the Congress candidate Ruby Manoharan for the October 21 Assembly bye-poll.

It was in that sense Mr. Palaniswami was not a popularly elected Chief Minister like MGR or J Jayalalithaa, the DMK leader clarified, electioneering at various places in Nanguneri constituency on Tuesday.

Pointing out that no less a person than Mr. Pannerselvam had said there was some ‘mystery’ in Ms. Jayalalithaa’s death,  Stalin said OPS was then placated for those remarks by being made the Deputy Chief Minister. However, Mr. Panneerselvam has not chosen to appear before the  Justice Arumughaswami Enquiry commission yet, he said, adding, “in no other State has a judicial probe been institute to inquire into the treatment given and death of a Chief Minister.”

Mr. Stalin said though MGR and Madame Jayalalithaa had been “authoritarian” leaders in parts, they never gave up the rightsof Tamil Nadu vis-à-vis the Central government. They always fought for the State’s rights, but Mr. Palaniswami’s government has “totally surrendered to the diktats of the BJP-led Central government,” the DMK leader said, adding, such a situation has never happened before in Tamil Nadu.

Blaming the public health mismanagement, going by the rising dengue and other fever cases in the State, to the AIADMK not holding the Local Bodies elections, Mr. Stalin said the DMK when voted to power will hold the Panchayat and Nagarpalika elections as its first priority.

Mr. Stalin also took a dig at Mr. Palaniswami’s campaign remarks that people of Nanguneri would be benefitted only if they voted for the ruling party candidate, by counter-posing whether the State government would abdicate its responsibility if the people did not vote for the ruling party.    

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