As the D-day (October 7) for the AIADMK’s announcement of its 2021 Tamil Nadu Assembly election Chief Ministerial candidate neared, it appeared that incumbent Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami had taken a lead over his deputy in government O Panneerselvam.
If everything goes as planned, it would on Wednesday be announced that Palaniswami would be the Chief Ministerial candidate to take on the DMK’s MK Stalin, while Panneerselvam, a three-time Chief Minister (all short tenures of a few months each), may have to be content with the formation of an 11-member steering committee in the party akin to the CPI (M) Politburo.
Sources in the party said Panneerselvam, who had made a desperate bid to be the party’s face in the next election, has been outwitted by Palaniswami. “However, it is not a total loss for Panneerselvam. The Chief Minister, who was adamant on not constituting the steering committee, something which was agreed as part of the deal for the merger of the AIADMK factions led by him and Panneerselvam in August 2017, may relent. He has indicated he will be open to the formation of the committee in lieu of being declared the Chief Ministerial candidate,” an organising secretary in the party said requesting anonymity.
On Tuesday, both Palaniswami and Panneerselvam, held separate but multiple meetings with delegations of second line leaders including ministers. The meetings, which began in the morning, continued late in the evening. “There is a possibility that the steering committee could be dominated by members of the Palaniswami faction,” a source said.