Panneerselvam to be sworn in CM, Jayalalithaa to appeal for bail today

  • KV Lakshmana, Hindustan Times, Chennai:
  • Updated: Sep 29, 2014 12:56 IST

More power to tea sellers in India.

New Tamil Nadu chief minister designate, after his election as the leader of AIADMK legislature party, O Panneerselvam also knows what it is to sell tea, just like prime minister Narendra Modi, who takes pride in the fact that he rose from there to great heights in public life.

Panneerselvam, finance minister in the Jayalalithaa government, was on Sunday invited by state governor K Rosaiah to form the government.

Read: A humble loyalist, Tamil Nadu’s new CM is Jaya’s right hand man

“Thiru O Panneerselvam, treasurer, AIADMK MLA representing Bondinaykanur Assembly constituency met His Excellency the Governor of Tamil Nadu at Raj Bhavan today (28-9-2014) and submitted a letter and the resolution passed by the AIADMK legislators held today in which he was unanimously elected as the leader of the AIADMK Legislature party. Consequently, His Excellency the Governor has invited him to form the ministry,” said a Press Release issued by the Raj Bhavan on Sunday evening.

It 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 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. At present, the tea stall is run by members of his brother’s family.

Read: Panneerselvam gets invite to form new ministry in Tamil Nadu

Similarities to the powerful leader like Modi end with the selling of tea. The real power behind the new chief minister continues to be Jayalalithaa, who would be ruling through remote control.

AIADMK sources say that everything will be as if Amma were present. A down to earth person, Panneerselvam maintains a low profile and a remains a very loyal soldier of Jayalalithaa, which critics describe “his master’s voice”.

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

During his earlier stint as the chief minister, he never sat in the chief minister’s chair and functioned from a smaller desk and chair. Panneeselvam would think nothing of responding to press queries with “I will get back to you after checking with Amma.”

Read: Jayalalithaa to move Karnataka high court for bail

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.

OPS, as Panneerselvam is fondly called by his friends and admirers, was among the very few persons present with Jayalalithaa on Saturday and Sunday at Bangalore court and jail before returning to Chennai for the AIADMK legislature meet.

Panneerselvam is a mild manner politician and understands the many moods of Amma and what is expected of him, said a senior AIADMK leader not wanting to be named.

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 and is the first person from Thevar community to become the chief minister of Tamil Nadu. OPS also served briefly as leader of opposition in assembly after AIADMK lost power in 2006.

Read: Volatile politics of TN is once again in a flux

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