Panneerselvam has to find a reason to stay relevant

With Sasikala out of CM race, many say it’s time OPS smoked the peace pipe

Updated - February 16, 2017 09:00 am IST

Published - February 16, 2017 01:16 am IST - CHENNAI

: With questions being raised about the relevance of Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam’s continuous objection to the AIADMK leadership, it has emerged that efforts to secure a rapprochement between the warring groups have already been initiated. Senior leaders in Mr. Panneerselvam’s camp confirmed that there might be a conciliatory agreement between them and Edappadi Palaniswami soon.

Senior leaders said that with Mr. Panneerselvam’s principle objection — V.K. Sasikala’s candidature for the post of Chief Ministership — being voided with her incarceration, it was time to take a look at mending fences to ensure a stable government in the State. Some leaders said that after the meeting with the Governor on Wednesday, there was a late night meeting of senior leaders in the OPS’s camp, in which the topic of reconciliation was broached. And, initiatives have reportedly begun in this direction.

However, what might be an impediment is the fact that AIADMK’s interim general secretary V.K. Sasikala’s influence seems to hold sway over her party cadre and MLAs who had initially pledged support for her, even after she has been lodged in the prison at Bengaluru. After getting Highways Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami elected as the legislature party leader, she moved swiftly and nominated her nephew T.T.V. Dinakaran as the deputy general secretary of the AIADMK.

‘A brilliant move’

“The nomination of Mr. Dinakaran as deputy general secretary is a brilliant move. Mr. Panneerselvam is no match for Mr. Dinakaran, who actually is responsible for the former’s meteoric rise in the party,” said Andipatti MLA and Theni district AIADMK secretary Thangatamilselvan.

Mr. Panneerselvam was secretary of the Periyakulam town unit of the AIADMK and also held the post of Periyakulam Municipal chairman when T.T.V. Dinakaran represented Periyakulam in the Lok Sabha. Mr. Dinakaran functioned as secretary of the Amma Peravai, and even as treasurer of the AIADMK. Mr. Panneerselvam replaced him as treasurer of the party in 2007.

“The friendship that developed between them during the period is what gave Mr. Panneerselvam an introduction to Chinnamma and she proposed his name for the Chief Minister’s post when Amma was convicted,” said Mr. Thangatamilselvan, who, before the 2016 Assembly election, replaced Mr. Panneerselvam as the Theni district secretary.

However, now, the time has come for Mr. Panneerselvam and his camp to find ways to move ahead, senior political commentators say.

Ramu Manivannan, Professor, Politics and Public Administration Department, Madras University, felt that the argument that Mr. Panneerselvam had no reason to continue his revolt as Sasikala was not in the scene was rational and would help Mr. Palaniswami to keep the flock together.

“Mr. Panneerselvam proved to be a good weathercock as he could sense the groundswell against Ms. Sasikala’s leadership. But he does not have the numbers. He could call the rival camp to bury the bitterness and come together. We must keep in mind that all these leaders were under the influence of Ms. Sasikala. It is my assessment that Mr. Palaniswami will comfortably prove his majority,” he said.

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