Editor's note: This article was originally published on 14 February. In the light of E Palaniswami becoming the new chief minister of Tamil Nadu, it is being republished today.
Just after AIADMK General Secretary VK Sasikala was convicted by the Supreme Court in the disproportionate assets case, Edappadi K Palanisamy was elected as the legislature party leader. The Sasikala loyalist and five-time MLA has already sent a letter to the governor to form the next government in Tamil Nadu.
According to The Indian Express, Palaniswamy is an MLA from Salem's Edappadi constituency and currently holds the portfolios of Highways, Public Works and Minor Ports. Edappadi was elected as an AIADMK MLA since 1989 — in 1991, 2011 and 2016. Hailing from Edappadi in Salem district, which lies in the Kongu belt of Tamil Nadu, Palanisamy had also served as the minister of the state.
One of the prominent faces of the party, Palanisamy hails from a region that is known for its powerful representation of Gounder community and a stronghold of the AIADMK. On Tuesday, Palaniswami said he was elected unanimously and that party treasurer and forests minister Dindigul C Srinivasan announced his unanimous election as the legislature party leader.
Palanisamy was also close to late J Jayalalithaa. According to The News Minute, Palanisamy was a member of Amma's close coterie of the 'Four Man Army' or Nalvar Ani. Over the years, the MLA has worked his way up through the ranks of the party. He was retained in 2016, both by Jayalalithaa and later by her successor Panneerselvam, who has since revolted against Sasikala for allegedly forcing him to step down from chief ministership.
Earlier in the day, Sasikala expelled O Panneerselvam from the party before selecting Palanisamy as the legislature leader, hours after the Supreme Court upheld the trial court verdict that sentenced Sasikala to four years jail. The verdict brought almost a week of political drama, where the Centre had maintained its distance before giving any decision, to a close.
"I have sent a letter to Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao staking claim to form government. After Governor invites me, I will give him the official paper of my election signed by the legislators," said Palaniswami. His election came at an emergency meeting called by Sasikala at a resort here within hours of the Supreme Court upholding a Bengaluru trial court order convicting her in the disproportionate assets case, crushing her hopes of becoming the chief minister.
Minutes after after the apex court delivered the verdict, Sasikala went into a huddle with her MLAs to decide on the next steps. Sasikala was elected AIADMK Legislature Party Leader on 5 February, paving the way for her becoming chief minister. Two days later, Pannerselvam had rebelled against her.
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(with inputs from PTI)
Updated Date: Feb 16, 2017 13:32 PM