Cabinet may feature new faces, OPS likely to retain No. 2 slot

K.A. Sengottaiyan and Senthil Balaji may land ministerial berths, party sources say

Updated - February 07, 2017 07:29 am IST

Published - February 07, 2017 01:07 am IST - CHENNAI

O. Panneerselvam seen at the AIADMK headquarters in Chennai on Sunday.

O. Panneerselvam seen at the AIADMK headquarters in Chennai on Sunday.

: With AIADMK general secretary V.K. Sasikala all set to take charge as the 12th Chief Minister of the State since Independence, the question being debated widely is the role to be assigned to outgoing Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam in the new Cabinet.

Party sources say Mr. Panneerselvam, who was number two in the Councils of Ministers headed by Jayalalithaa during 2002-2006 and 2011-2016 (except when he was the Chief Minister), is most likely to be retained in the same position.

Besides, he would remain as the Leader of the House. The common refrain is that Mr. Panneerselvam would be “suitably rewarded” for his “steadfast loyalty.”

There is also much speculation about the likely composition of the Cabinet that will be headed by Ms. Sasikala.

When Mr. Panneerselvam succeeded Jayalalithaa as the Chief Minister in September 2001 in the wake of the Supreme Court verdict that quashed her appointment as the CM, only one Minister from the outgoing Cabinet was dropped.

However, in September 2014, when Jayalalithaa was convicted, there was no change in the composition of the Council of Ministers. This was repeated in December 2016 after the death of Jayalalithaa.

No drastic change

Even though no drastic change is expected this time either in the composition of the Cabinet, the talk of inducting veteran leader K.A. Sengottaiyan has been doing the rounds.

Last week, Mr. Sengottaiyan, who had been sidelined by the party after he was dropped from the Cabinet in July 2012, was made one of the organising secretaries of the party.

Mr. Sengottaiyan was first elected to the State Assembly in the 1977 Assembly elections, when the AIADMK captured power for the first time.

Another person whose name has been doing the rounds as a probable ministerial candidate is former Transport Minister V. Senthil Balaji.

Between May 2011 and July 2015, he was one of the visible faces of the AIADMK government. Now, he represents the Aravakurichi constituency, where elections had been deferred following complaints of widespread electoral malpractice.

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