Although Palaniswami was the party’s CM candidate in the ballot, a section of MPs is in favor of Panneerselvam
A consensus has not yet emerged within AIADMK on who should be the Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly.
Party officials said that although outgoing Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami was declared the lead minister of the candidate party in the Assembly ballot, there was a section of MPs that favored the party coordinator and vice – outgoing Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam as Leader of the Opposition.
Two former ministers who spoke with The Hindu said the issue was not yet decided and hoped the meeting of lawmakers from the newly elected parties on May 7 would bring the issue to a close. It was a delicate question and it could not be decided in a hurry; as a result, party deputies had been called for Friday night’s meeting, they said.
“AIADMK’s decision to project Mr. Palaniswami as its candidate for the post of Chief Minister was only a tentative arrangement. The issue of dual leadership and the challenges it created within the party were not finally resolved last October. Now that the elections are over and the AIADMK could not win, the issue has resurfaced, ”said political analyst P. Ramajayam.
Since AIADMK has retained its stronghold in the western districts, where Mr. Palaniswami hails from, it should gain majority support from them, in the event of a vote of any kind. His candidacy for the post of chief minister also helped Mr. Palaniswami become the face of the party, regardless of his defeat.
“The situation is likely to work in Mr. Palaniswami’s favor. A majority of elected party MPs are from the Western region and the May 7 meeting is for party MPs and not officials, ”Ramajayam said.
But Mr Panneerselvam is no less stature, as he has been handpicked by former chief minister Jayalalithaa to succeed him, as a “provisional” arrangement, on two occasions. As a long-time finance minister, he presented several state budgets. His supporters believe that Mr. Panneerselvam cannot be dismissed, as any statement issued by the party will also have to be co-signed by him.
The position of Leader of the Opposition is the next best thing an outgoing Chief Minister would expect to occupy, as it would mean that he / she would continue to remain the face of the party, both in the Assembly and outside, and to question the Chief Minister himself. Losing this post would make it difficult for either of them to claim leadership in the future.
In the meantime, several newly elected AIADMK deputies continued to visit Mr. Palaniswami’s residence in the Salem district. A party statement sent photos of the same to the media.