Chennai, December 6 (The Hindu): Senior All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) leader and cabinet minister O. Panneerselvam or OPS as he is known, has been elected leader of AIADMK’s Legislative Party and sworn-in as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu.
The swearing-in took place shortly after midnight on Tuesday, following the demise of Chief Minister J.Jayalalithaa at 11.30 pm on Monday.
Panneerselvam, Jayalalithaa’s trusted man, had earlier stepped into her shoes for two brief periods — during 2001-02 and 2014-15, when she was dislodged by the courts.
The meeting of the Legislative Party was chaired by AIADMK Presidium Chairman E. Madhusoothanan, who was flanked by senior leaders including Panneerselvam, Edappadi K. Palaniswami, S.P. Velumani, Dindigul C. Sreenivasan and P. Thangamani.
With over four years to go for the present government, Mr. Panneerselvam will have a tough time keeping the party together as it tries to reinvent itself and keep it relevant and intact in the immediate future. At present there seems to be no one in the party who could match the charisma of party founder M.G. Ramachandran and the leadership skills of Jayalalithaa, both of whom held a sway over the masses for over four decades.
On a day of high drama, Panneerselvam, OPS as he is called in the party, was at the Apollo Hospitals till about 11 p.m., while the party MLAs first waited at the hospital and then at the party headquarters since evening to elect him as the next Chief Minister.
Only after it became evident that the death of Jayalalithaa would be announced anytime, he walked into the party headquarters and sat there with a sombre face.
A man with a humble beginnings, OPS, who owned a tea shop in Periyakulam in Theni district, entered politics and made it big with the help of Jayalalithaa’s friend Sasikala’s nephew TTV Dinakaran.
He was first elected Chairman of Periyakulam Municipality in 1996. In 2001, he was elected to the Assembly and became a Minister in Jayalalithaa’s Cabinet and went on to hold the reins of the government in an interim measure just four months later on September 21, 2001. Subsequently, he emerged as the number two in Jayalalithaa’s Cabinet.
While in the past, Jayalalithaa was around to guide him, this time, he has to fend for himself.
(The featured picture at the top is that of O.Panneerselvam)