AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa was on Friday unanimously elected its legislature party leader, paving the way for her return as a chief minister of Tamil Nadu following her acquittal in a disproportionate assets case, the Hindustan Times reported.
Party MLAs, including party treasurer and chief minister O Panneerselvam, assembled at the party headquarters in Chennai in the morning and re-elected Jayalalithaa as AIADMK legislative chief.
Panneeerselvam forwarded the motion to elect her as legislature party leader which was seconded by electricity minister Natham R Vishwanathan.
A beaming cooperative minister, Sellur K Raju, when asked if Jayalalithaa had been elected as LPP leader, said: “This is the happiest day of our life.”
Party cadres had assembled in large numbers at the AIADMK headquarters since early morning.
Panneerselvam, who headed straight to Jayalalithaa’s Poes Garden residence, resigned soon after the meeting.
Accepting the resignation of Panneerselvam and his council of ministers Tamil Nadu governor K Rosaiah invited AIADMK general secretary Jayalalithaa to form the new government at the earliest, a Raj Bhavan statement said.
“The governor of Tamil Nadu accepted the resignation of Panneerselvam and his council of ministers from the ‘forenoon of’ May 22, 2015,” said the statement.
“The governor has requested the chief minister (Panneerselvam) and his present council of ministers to function until alternative arrangements are made,” it added.
“The governor of Tamil Nadu has invited Selvi (Ms) J Jayalalithaa to form the ministry at the earliest and requested her to send the list of persons to be appointed as ministers with portfolios.”
Later in the day, Jayalalithaa is expected to appear in public for the first time after her acquittal and garland the statues of AIADMK leaders, including mentor and party founder MG Ramachandran, DMK founder CN Annadurai and DK leader Periyar EV Ramasamy.
She will visit Raj Bhavan to call on governor Rosaiah and stake claim to form a government. Party sources indicate that she could be sworn in as the chief minister on Friday or on Saturday.
Clearing the decks for Jayalalithaa to contest from an assembly constituency once she assumes office as chief minister for the fifth time, P Vetrivel, AIADMK MLA from north Chennai’s Radhakrishnan Nagar, had resigned on May 17 .
With Vetrivel’s resignation, the AIADMK’s strength in the 234-member assembly came down by one to 150, excluding the speaker.
The 67-year-old leader had to resign from the assembly and her post as the chief minister following her conviction in the Rs 66.66 crore disproportionate assets case by a Bengaluru trial court in the disproportionate assets case on September 27 last year.
On May 11, the Karnataka high court upturned the trial court conviction and cleared Jayalalithaa of all charges in the graft case. However, the Karnataka government had announced that it would challenge Jayalalithaa’s acquittal in the Supreme Court.
Jayalalithaa used to represent the temple town of Srirangam in the assembly. After her resignation, the party managed to retain the seat through a by-election by a huge margin.