Edappadi Palaniswami: More than just Sasikala's proxy?

Last Updated: Fri, Feb 17, 2017 10:40 hrs
Sasikala loyalist E Palanisamy and TN Governor

Edapaddi K Palaniswami, invited by Governor Vidyasagar Rao to be Tamil Nadu's new Chief Minister, is a four-time MLA from Edappadi, a small town in Salem.

Interestingly, the 63-year-old is said to be a study in contrast to O Pannerselvam - with a short fuse and authoritarian in nature too.

"He is not an informed politician like many others in AIADMK. Although Panneerselvam and Edappadi were among the top five leaders (Editor's Note: The other three were Natham Viswanathan, R Vaithilingam and P Palaniappan) who had been working for Jayalalithaa in close circles, Edappadi's approach is far different from that of Panneerselvam who developed a polite image over the years. He is also known for his authoritarian nature like Jayalalithaa in the party. He is a rough-and-tumble politician," a senior AIADMK leader was quoted as saying by the Indian Express.

The Minister for Public Works, Highways and Minor Ports in the 2016 Jayalalithaa ministry and later the Panneerselvam ministry that took over after the late CM's death, Palaniswami hails from the strong Vellalar Gounder community.

He is from the Kongu belt (including 12 Lok Sabha constituencies - Coimbatore, Tirupur, Pollachi, the Nilgiris, Erode, Salem, Namakkal, Karur, Dharmapuri, Krishnagiri, Kallakurichi and Dindugul) which is an AIADMK stronghold.

Palaniswami had thrown in his lot with J Jayalalithaa when the party split for a brief while in 1987 after the death of AIADMK founder, the charismatic late Chief Minister MG Ramachandran.

He boasts of a 43-year-long association with the AIADMK, having joined it as a greenhorn two years after the party was formed in 1972.

An agriculturist, he is a four-time MLA, having won Assembly elections from Edapaddi in 1989, 1991, 2011 and 2016. He won with a margin of over 42,000 votes in 2016.

He has also been a Lok Sabha member, having won from the now-defunct Tiruchengode constituency in Namakkal district in 1998.

Salem, the region from where Palaniswami hails, played a significant part in AIADMK's return to power in 2016 with the party claiming 10 of the 11 constituencies.

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