O. Panneerselvam tweets up a storm ahead of AIADMK’s announcement of CM candidate for TN Assembly election

Published : October 05, 2020 19:47 IST

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K. Palaniswami and Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam (left) pay tribute to Mahatma Gandhi on his birth anniversary, at Marina Beach in Chennai on October 2. Photo: R. Senthil Kumar/PTI

For the second time in just over a fortnight the embattled Deputy Chief Minister, O. Panneerselvam, took to social media to convey his displeasure on the happenings within the party. His tweet of October 5 appeared benign, but had implications far beyond what it literally meant.

He said: “My decisions so far have been [taken] in the interest of the people of Tamil Nadu and the AIADMK cadre.” He added a line from the Bhagavad Gita: “Whatever has happened, has happened for the good. Whatever is happening too, is happening for the good.” The tweet comes ahead of October 7, the date fixed by the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam to announce a Chief Minister candidate for the 2021 Legislative Assembly polls.

Panneerselvam’s tweet set off speculation that he was planning another battle ahead of the announcement. The reference to the Gita was not lost on the Chief Minister’s camp; the advice, in the epic, is rendered ahead of the battle. 

In the wake of the tweet, Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami met at least five senior Ministers and reportedly discussed strategies ahead of the October 7 announcement.  As of now, the Chief Minister has the support of the majority of the party seniors, one source said, and added that unless the Chief Minister decides to accommodate Panneerselvam, an announcement of the Chief Minister candidate will go ahead on the date announced.

In what appears to be a climb down on his part later in the day, Panneerselvam, who was heading back to Chennai from Theni, advised supporters to remove a banner which proclaimed him as the “future Chief Minister”. The reason given, though, was that it hindered people’s movement along the road.

The open display of differences of opinion between the Chief Minister and the Deputy Chief Minister has created confusion in the rank and file of the party. While many seniors have aligned themselves with Palaniswami, many in the lower rungs, at the level of spokespersons, are having a tough time trying to push a narrative that there is no problem within the party. All differences of opinion were an expression of “democratic dissent” and there was nothing more to read into this, one party senior said. The party was united and both EPS and OPS were two barrels in the same gun and would fire to “protect the people of the State,” he added.