All you need to know about Tamil Nadu's new CM Edappadi Palanisamy: The rebel turned chosen one of the establishment
Palanisamy had his electoral debut during almost similar circumstances two decades ago, when the AIADMK split into two factions, headed by MGR's wife, Janaki Ramachandran, and Jayalalithaa.
CHENNAI: After long-time loyalist, Chief Minister O Panneerselvam raised a banner of revolt and the Supreme Court verdict on Tuesday that debarred party general secretary VK Sasikala from contesting any elections in the near future, the search for an alternative within the AIADMK was rather easy.
As an influential leader from the powerful Gounder community, K Palanisamy, the 62-year-old from Edappadi village in Salem district, was an almost automatic choice to be chosen as the leader of the AIADMK Legislature Party.
Hailing from an agrarian family, Palanisamy had his electoral debut during almost similar circumstances in the party two decades ago, when the AIADMK split into two factions, headed by party founder MG Ramachandran’s wife, Janaki Ramachandran, and the rebel, J Jayalalithaa, then a Rajya Sabha member.
As a young man, Palanisamy sided with Jayalalithaa and contested from Edappadi constituency on the rooster symbol that was allotted to the faction in the 1989 Assembly election. He won that election, and thrice more in the following decades including the victory in the May 2016 polls.
After the last victory, he became part of the inner coterie that formed Jaya’s first lieutenants – a gang of four led by the present rebel chief Panneerselvam.
In the State Cabinet, he is technically the third in hierarchy after Panneerselvam and Forest Minister ‘Dindigul’ C Srinivasan. However, Palanisamy, the PWD, Highways and Minor Ports minister, enjoyed far more clout than Srinivasan, effectively emerging as the number two after Panneerselvam.
Electricity Minister P Thangamani, part of the new gang of four that are with Sasikala, is Palanisamy’s relative.
The Gounders from west Tamil Nadu are an influential group that has reasonable numbers and boasts of being successful in business, trade and entrepreneurship. While the Thevar community, to which Sasikala belongs to, held the centre stage during Jaya’s period, that equilibrium changed after her death.
New presidium chairman KA Sengottaiyan, who was elevated to the post after the incumbent senior leader E Madhusudanan joined the rebel front, is also from the Gounder community.