OPS has his political task cut out

With bypoll scrapped, civic elections could prove crucial

Published - April 17, 2017 07:58 am IST - CHENNAI

NEW DELHI, 15/03/2017: Former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu O Panneerselvam, addressing a press conference after meeting the Chief Election Commissioner of India in New Delhi on Wednesday.  
Photo: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

NEW DELHI, 15/03/2017: Former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu O Panneerselvam, addressing a press conference after meeting the Chief Election Commissioner of India in New Delhi on Wednesday. Photo: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

The countermanding of the byelection to the Dr. Radhakrishnan Nagar Assembly constituency has made former Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam’s fight for his mentor Jayalalithaa’s political legacy longer, observers feel. Had the byelection been held as scheduled, a win or even a second position edging out the Sasikala camp to the third place would have helped him in his battle, they contend.

While his supporters are hopeful of immediate gains based on the premise that the Sasikala camp might crack up soon due to the recent I-T searches, observers feel otherwise.

Gnani, journalist and political analyst, feels that the R.K. Nagar byelection was a life-and-death situation for both the AIADMK factions. “But OPS’ future will depend on the local body polls whenever it is held. It could prove to be the decisive moment for him,” he said. “Even assuming that the DMK wins in the local body polls, who finishes second (OPS or Sasikala faction) could determine his future,” Mr. Gnani said.

However, Dravida Iyakka Tamilar Peravai founder Suba. Veerapandian – a staunch DMK sympathiser – draws a parallel with MDMK cheif Vaiko’s political career. “When Mr. Vaiko left the DMK, he had a lot of support from cadre and the people. But look at where he is now,” he said.

Charge against OPS

Professor Ramu Manivannan of the Department of Politics at the University of Madras too says Mr. Panneerselvam’s relevance exists only because he challenged the jailed AIADMK leader Sasikala and her family. “He was a sycophant who turned a rebel because he was asked to step down,” Mr. Manivannan charged.

But former Minister Ma. Foi Pandiarajan denies that Mr. Panneerselvam would not succeed in his battle for Jayalalithaa’s legacy. “He has a credible image and people see him as a very eligible successor to Amma ,” he said.

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