India

Jayaram Jayalalitha: Ailing India chief minister gives up powers

A member of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam(AIADMK) party displays a pendant with the image of AIADMK leader Jayalalithaa Jayaram Image copyright AFP
Image caption Fears about Ms Jayalalitha's health have caused tension in the state

The ailing chief minister of India's southern Tamil Nadu state has handed over all her responsibilities to her deputy, the state governor has said.

All Jayaram Jayalalitha's portfolios were transferred to OP Panneerselvam, who has stood in for her in the past, but she will remain chief minister.

Governor Vidyasagar Rao's statement said the transfer had been carried out on Ms Jayalalitha's "express wishes".

It is being seen as another attempt to quell fears about her health.

Ms Jayalalitha has been in hospital since 22 September, and there has been a veil of secrecy over the extent of her illness, which has led to tension among her supporters in the state.

There are concerns that her supporters could resort to violence and acts of self harm in the event of bad news.

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On Tuesday, police in the state capital, Chennai (Madras), arrested two people for "spreading rumours" about her health.

A political analyst, Bhagwan Singh, told BBC Hindi's Imran Qureshi that it was significant that the governor's statement expressly mentioned that the decision to shift portfolios was taken on the advice of the chief minister.

"They are trying to say that she is conscious in an attempt to stop further speculation about her health," he said.

A spokesman for Ms Jayalalitha's AIADMK party told BBC Hindi that "in the party only the chief minister decides everything. As per the doctor's advice she has to take rest, so she has given her portfolios to Mr Panneerselvam. He is a very loyal person."

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