Chennai: The Tamil Nadu cabinet met for the first time on Wednesday since Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa was hospitalised on September 22. Finance Minister O Panneerselvam, who has taken over portfolios held by Jayalalithaa, chaired the meeting.
According to reports, an important agenda of the meeting was to discuss the Cauvery issue. The Opposition DMK had called for an all-party meeting to discuss the matter.
Farmers' bodies and political parties had staged a two-day state-wide rail blockade ending Tuesday, urging the Centre to constitute the Cauvery Management Board.
The meeting also comes ahead of the scheduled onset of north-east monsoon later this month. The rains in December last year had wreaked havoc, flooding Chennai and nearby districts.
Another agenda of the meeting was to decide on the appointment of special officers to local bodies across Tamil Nadu. The term of over 1 lakh special officers expires on October 24. Local body polls in the state have been postponed.
“Since the Madras High Court extended the stay on conduct of elections for another four weeks, it has become imperative on the part of the government to appoint special officers to run the administration at the local level. The cabinet will discuss the issue and take a decision,” a senior official told Deccan Chronicle.
The meeting comes a week after the acting Governor CH Vidyasagar Rao handed over all portfolios held by Jayalalithaa to Pannerselvam and also allowed him to chair cabinet meetings.
Panneerselvam, 65, took over the ministries that Jayalalithaa personally supervises after doctors said that she would need a longer stay in hospital. Jayalalithaa had appointed Panneerselvam as her stand-in twice before, including when she was arrested on corruption charges two years ago. After being acquitted last year, she took over again as chief minister.
The last Cabinet meeting held by Jayalalithaa was in July this year to discuss the state budget.
The government released photographs of Wednesday's cabinet meeting, where Panneerselvam was seen seated with a picture of Jayalalithaa placed on his desk.
The AIADMK brass claims that the decision to give Jayalalithaa’s portfolios to Panneerselvam was taken on her instructions. However, DMK chief Karunanidhi has asked for photographs to be released to assure the people of Tamil Nadu that Jayalalithaa is doing well....