E Palaniswami will be the ruling AIADMK’s Chief ministerial candidate for the Tamil Nadu election next year, his deputy and perceived rival for the post, O Panneerselvam, announced today.
The announcement came after weeks of negotiation and speculation over intense rivalry between Chief Minister E Palaniswami or “EPS”, and Mr Panneerselvam.
An 11-member steering committee of the party will look at “collective leadership”, said Mr Panneerselvam, also known as “OPS”, recalling the leadership of J Jayalalithaa, the former AIADMK chief and Chief Minister who died in 2016.
Talks reportedly went on till 3.30 am this morning, in the hours leading up to the announcement that delivers, for now, a delicate balance of power between EPS and OPS.
Posters projecting OPS as chief ministerial candidate had led to talk about another intense tussle between the AIADMK’s top two.
But after several rounds of talks, the party has apparently settled for a truce in which EPS heads the government while OPS will have a greater say in the party.
The pact is crucial ahead of the return of VK Sasikala, the ousted AIADMK chief who was jailed for corruption. Sasikala is likely to be released from jail in January though reports suggest it could be earlier.