Tamil Nadu Governor Chennamaneni Vidyasagar Rao is looking at the big picture in state politics, instead of just going through procedural formalities. Vidyasagar Rao, a veteran of erstwhile Andhra Pradesh politics, from where he has been an MLA, MP and also Union minister for about three decades, is also a legal eagle. Sources who spoke to The Sunday Guardian from Chennai on phone hinted the priorities of Governor Rao. These sources from Hyderabad have been associated with Rao for the last few months in official capacity and so declined to be quoted.
Governor Rao has been facing criticism for failing to install a new government in the state even after talking on Thursday to both the contenders for the post of Chief Minister—O. Panneerselvam (OPS) and V.K. Sasikala.
People were left speculating after a Chennai Raj Bhawan spokesperson dismissed reports by Tamil news channels that Rao has sent a report to the Centre on the situation in Chennai and that a decision on the next CM may come at any time on Friday.
The sources said that Vidyasagar Rao is not solely guided by the urgency of installing a government in Tamil Nadu as the situation has turned complex thanks to a variety of factors—constitutional, legal and political. “He spent entire Friday analysing the tangled situation,” an aide close to the Governor said.
OPS, whose resignation was accepted last Sunday, is seeking permission to take back his paper, whereas Sasikala, who claimed to have the numbers, is accused of abducting her MLAs and faces a Supreme Court verdict on her corruption case next week. Opposition DMK wants the continuation of a caretaker CM.
According to the aide, the Governor was not in a tearing hurry to appoint a CM in Tamil Nadu but was concerned about the political stability in the state. However, the sources made it clear that the uncertainty would not last long as the Centre would definitely step into the picture once the Governor sends his report on Saturday. A final decision would be taken at the highest level, possibly by the Prime Minister, once the usual vetting of the Governor’s report was done by the Ministry of Home Affairs, they said. However, the sources refused to draw a timeframe for all this.
Vidyasagar Rao, who turned 76 last week, is a seasoned politician. He seems to be studying the present political situation in Tamil Nadu and is keen on ensuring a reasonable stability in the state which is passing through turbulent times since the hospitalisation of former CM Jayalalithaa on 22 September last year.
A four-time BJP MLA from Metpalli in Karimnagar district of Telangana, Vidyasagar Rao was also a three-time MP from Karimnagar Lok Sabha seat and was a junior minister in the Atal Behari Vajpayee Council of Ministers between 1998 and 2004. Rao, who began his political life as an activist of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, also held positions in the erstwhile Jan Sangh.
Vidyasagar Rao was the leader of the BJP in the Andhra Pradesh Assembly, when a similar political crisis engulfed the state in September 1995. When then TDP CM N.T. Rama Rao was dethroned by his son-in-law and Finance Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, AP too witnessed MLA camps and numbers’ game between the two factions.
Vidyasagar Rao, as the leader of the BJP, which stayed neutral in the crisis, was keen on testing who had the numbers and who could form a stable government, while speaking in the Assembly in those days. Some of his friends who recall his legal practice in Karimnagar’s lower courts told this newspaper that Rao, who has an inquisitive mind, would never let go of an argument without seeing the other side.
Former Tamil Nadu Governor K. Rosaiah, who is currently living in his Ameerpet residence in Hyderabad, told The Sunday Guardian on Friday that Vidyasagar Rao was capable of handing the complicated political situation in Chennai. “Being a seasoned politician and lawyer, he (Rao) knows the nitty-gritty of constitutional provisions,” said Rosaiah.