Tamil Nadu’s Finance Minister O Panneerselvam chaired a meeting of the state Cabinet on Wednesday, filling in for ailing Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa. She had handed over all her portfolios to Panneerselvam on October 11, weeks after she was admitted to Apollo Hospital in Chennai. In photographs of the Cabinet meeting released by the state government, Panneerselvam can be seen heading the discussion with a picture of Jayalalithaa in front of him, and her chair was left vacant, as well.
During the meeting, Tamil Nadu's dispute with Karnataka over sharing water from the Cauvery river was discussed elaborately. The main Opposition party Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, had called for an all-party meeting to discuss the water-sharing row. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court had directed Karnataka to continue to release 2,000 cusecs of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu till further orders. The apex court had taken into consideration a report submitted by a high-level technical team, which had found that both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu were facing a water shortage.
Cabinet members also spoke about the appointment of special officers in local bodies because the tenure of more than a lakh of these officers ends on October 24, and civic polls have been postponed in the state. "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," an officials told Deccan Chronicle. The state Cabinet also approved several projects, according to NDTV.
Jayalalithaa's move to hand over her portfolios was questioned by the Opposition, who have been speculating endlessly on her health and asking for pictures to prove her recovery. Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief M Karunanidhi has demanded that the Tamil Nadu governor explain how Chief Minister Jayalalithaa gave approval for the reallocation of her portfolios given her condition. His views have been echoed by leaders of the Pattali Makkal Katchi and Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam.
Jayalalithaa's party, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, has maintained that her health is improving.