Edappadi Palaniswami is is currently the Minister for Public Works, Highways and Minor Ports.

Edappadi Palaniswami a powerful Gounder leader from Salem is Sasikalas choice
news DA Case Tuesday, February 14, 2017 - 13:17

Just hours after the Supreme court convicted Sasikala in the Disproportionate Assets case, AIADMK MLAs selected Edappadi K Palaniswami as the leader of the Legislature Party. The decision comes as Sasikala is now disqualified from contesting elections for a period of 10 years – four years of her sentence in the case, and a six-year ban.

Tuesday’s verdict in the DA case comes as a blow for Sasikala, who was elected as the Legislature Party leader of AIADMK on February 5. While Sasikala submitted a letter of support from AIADMK MLAs to the Governor and staked her claim to be the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Governor Vidyasagar Rao delayed the swearing-in ever since.

Now, Sasikala can no longer be sworn in as the Chief Minister due to her conviction in the DA case.

Edappadi Palaniswami, who has been chosen by the MLAs to replace Sasikala as the Legislature Party leader, is from the powerful Gounder community in Tamil Nadu.

The AIADMK leader from Salem, who came with no political background, worked his way up the political ladder before gaining Jayalalithaa’s confidence. He is currently the Minister for Public Works, Highways and Minor Ports.

Though Palaniswami cannot boast of a large supporter base in Salem, he has been a Poes Garden favourite. A four-time MLA from his native Edappadi constituency, Palaniswami was a member of Jayalalithaa’s close coterie – Nalvar Ani, or the Four Man Army.

On December 5, immediately after Jayalalithaa’s death, there was a meeting called of all the AIADMK MLAs at Apollo Hospital, where three names were proposed for the CM’s chair, which included VK Sasikala, O Panneerselvam and Edappadi Palaniswami. So, Palaniswami was in the reckoning right from that time.  

“If madam wants to pass messages to anyone in the party, it mainly comes through them," an AIADMK leader from western Tamil Nadu had once said.

However, Edappadi's style of functioning appears to be the opposite of O Panneerselvam. Comparing the two, a senior AIADMK leader told The Indian Express that Edappadi was not an "informed politician like many others in the AIADMK."

He went on to say, "Although Panneerselvam and Edappadi were among the top five leaders 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."

Although there are whispers in TN's political corridors linking Edappadi with the sand mining mafia, no cases have been registered against him so far. 

Palaniswami who first contested in 1989, had lost an election in 2006. He won the May 2016 elections purely on the money that he was able to get sanctioned for the Edappadi municipality for various development works.

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