Former CM Palaniswami Set to Become Leader of Opposition in Tamil Nadu Assembly

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Top AIADMK leader K Palaniswami was on Monday unanimously elected leader of the legislature party after about a three-hour meet here and he is all set to become the Leader of Opposition in the Tamil Nadu Assembly. The meeting of the newly-elected MLAs to elect the legislature party leader, the second within three days, reportedly saw exchanges on who should lead the party in the House with one section pitching for Palaniswami and the other for coordinator O Panneerselvam.

Eventually, the party announced in a statement that Palaniswami was elected leader of the legislature party. In a joint statement, Palaniswami and Panneerselvam said the election was unanimous. Later, party leaders called on Tamil Nadu Assembly Secretary K Srinivasan and handed over a letter on Palaniswami’s election.

The MLAs meet on May 7 here ended without deciding on who should be legislature party leader as the consensus building exercise did not apparently succeed. For a while today, when the legislators meeting was in progress at the party headquarters, social media was abuzz claiming that another leader, former Assembly Speaker P Dhanapal’s name was being considered to overcome differences.

In view of the gathering of MLAs, the AIADMK headquarters and the vicinity were teeming with cadres and there were some wall posters hailing Panneerselvam and asking him to ‘become’ the leader of opposition. Supporters of Palaniswami could seen around confident of his election by virtue of his ‘strong work’ for the party.

Interestingly, some wallposters close to the party office praised V K Sasikala as the ‘permanent general secretary’, and wanted her to assume the ‘top leadership’ of the party. She and her nephew TTV Dhinakaran were removed from the party in 2017. The AIADMK won a total of 66 Assembly segments out of the total 234, and the outcome also proved that the western region, the home turf of Palaniswami continued to be a stronghold of the party.

In southern Tamil Nadu, Theni district being the native of Panneerselvam, the party saw its archrival DMK beating it convincingly. Factors such as these reportedly stood Palaniswami in good stead. Palaniswami was the chief minister for four years between 2017 and 2021 while Panneerselvam assumed office as deputy chief minister in 2017 after the factions led by the two leaders merged.

The party event witnessed deployment of a posse of policemen in the area and several police personnel were seen with protective, riot shields and helmets. As party workers swelled in the neighbourhood, some personnel with megaphones reminded people on COVID-19 guidelines. In 2006, when DMK captured power and AIADMK lost the Assembly polls, Panneerselvam was the leader of opposition for a very short time and then, late party supremo J Jayalalithaa became the leader of opposition..

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