A humble loyalist, Tamil Nadu's new CM is Jaya's right hand man

  • KV Lakshmana, Hindustan Times, Chennai
  • Updated: Sep 29, 2014 09:45 IST

Tamil Nadu chief minister-designate O Panneerselvam, who was invited by the governor to form the government, has been a loyal AIADMK worker and has risen from a poor background.

Panneerselvam, finance minister in the Jayalalithaa government, was on Sunday invited by K Rosaiah to form the government, a Raj Bhavan release on Sunday said. The release did not mention any date or time of the ministry formation, till the time of writing of the report.

Panneerselvam will be replacing Amma, now lodged in the Bangalore central jail located at Parappana Aghrahara, after her conviction in the disproportionate assets case.

A farmer hailing from Periyakulam in Theni district, 63-year old Paneerselvam also used to run a tea stall that he still owns. The stall is now run by members of his brother’s family.

AIADMK sources say that everything will be as if Amma were present. A down-to-earth person, Panneerselvam maintains a low profile and remains a loyal soldier of Jayalalithaa.

It was due to his loyalty factor that Panneerselvam was picked up by her in 2001 and again in 2014, when she faces trying times in her political career.

During his earlier stint as the CM, he never sat in the chief minister’s chair and functioned from a smaller desk and chair. Panneeselvam would respond to press queries with “I will get back to you after checking with Amma.”

He used to maintain that he was just a temporary arrangement to fill in for Amma who for some circumstances could not be present. This time too, it won’t be any different, AIADMK sources said.

Panneerselvam entered politics in 1996 and became the chairperson Periyakulam municipality of Theni district. For the first time he contested assembly elections in 2001 from Periyakulam and became the PWD minister. Now he represents another constituency, Bondinayakar in assembly. OPS also served briefly as leader of opposition in assembly after AIADMK lost power in 2006.

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