The centre has decided to take over security of former Tamil Nadu chief minister O Panneerselvam who is locked in bitter feud with the rival AIADMK faction led by now jailed Sasikala Natrajan to wrest control of the political legacy of J Jayalalithaa.
The centre’s decision comes just ahead of the crucial Radhakrishna Nagar assembly by-poll on April 12 where both the factions have put up their candidates - Sasikala’s nephew TTV Dinanakaran from her faction and party veteran E Madhusudhanan from the OPS group - and a high voltage campaign is on.
OPS, as Panneerselvam is better know as in the political circles, will now get round the clock protection from a central paramilitary force under ‘Y’ category on the basis of a threat perception analysis by the Intelligence Bureau.
“Home minister Rajnath Singh is likely to clear file for sanctioning security to OPS soon,” said a home ministry official who spoke on the condition of anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to media.
Final clearance for addition or deletion of any name from the list of central protectees is done by the home minister.
Under ‘Y’ category security on ‘threat’ basis OPS will get round the clock protection from two personal security officers and an overall contigent of around a dozen guards will be deployed at his residence and office.
The centre’s move came following a request from leaders of the OPS faction to home minister Rajnath Singh last month. The delegation was led by senior leader of the OPS faction and Rajya Sabha member V Maitreyan.
“We have asked the Central government to provide security to former chief minister O Panneerselvam who is experiencing serious security threat in the state,” Maitreyan had said following his meeting with the HM on March 21.
After the death of Jayalalitha, OPS was appointed chief minister of Tamil Nadu. When Jayalalithaa’s close aide Sasikala Natrajan tried to take back control of the AIADMK government by unseating OPS, he revolted but a majority of party MLAs chose not to side with him. Amidst the political slugfest, Sasikala was jailed following her conviction in the disproportionate assets case by the Supreme Court, which also rendered her disqualified to hold the seat of Tamil Nadu’s CM, therefore her faction chose another party leader
Edappadi’ K Palaniswami as the next chief minister.
The delegation led by V Maitreyan had sought security for Madhusudanan also but the centre so far has acted on the request for central protection for OPS only.