From owning a tea stall to joining active politics in 1996 and now becoming the new Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu after incumbent chief minister Jayalalithaa had to step down due to conviction in disproportionate assets case. O. Panneerselvam in September 2001 too was made Chief Minister for a short time as Jayalalithaa had to step down after the Supreme Court pronounced her guilty of a criminal offence. Panneerselvam is also popularly known as the reluctant Chief Minister.
In 2001 he chose not to sit in Jayalalithaa’s chair at the Chief Minister’s Office and also did not clear any crucial files in her absence. Instead he chose a visitor’s chair at Fort St. George when he was appointed as the CM in September 2001.
Panneerselvam was born in January 1951 in Piryakulam, Tamilnadu. He owned agricultural lands and a tea shop. He became the chairman of Periakulam municipality in the year 1996. He contested MLA election in 2001 and became the PWD minister from Periakulam. He became the chief minister after Jayalalithaa lost a corruption case and had to resign after the Supreme Court revoked Jayalalithaa's conviction in March 2002. During this period he was just an acting chief minister while all the orders came from Jayalalithaa and she was managing the government through Selvam.
In the AIADMK legislature party meeting on Sunday which was held after Jayalalithaa was arrested O Panneerselvam was elected as the new Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. He is all set to be sworn in as the chief minister today. According to party insiders, Panneerselvam was unanimously elected as the Chief Minister. “He is firm and serious with us, and very loyal to Amma. He deserves it,” said a senior MLA. Many senior leaders pointed out that he had been loyal to Jayalalithaa since the early ‘90s. He is a party card holding member since 1972. He was in the Janaki camp but after MGR’s death due to the faction led by MGR’s wife he joined Jayalalithaa,”
A bail petition will be filed in the Karnataka High Court today and the party is hoping it will be called for hearing latest on Tuesday by the vacation bench. Jayalalithaa was visited by some top officers of the state government including Special Advisor and former Chief Secretary Sheela Balakrishnan and DGP Intelligence Ashok Kumar at the Bangalore Parappana Agrahara prison. Senior lawyer Ram Jethmalani is being planned to be roped in to fight her case in higher courts.
Like in 2001 Selvam will serve as the chief minister while Jayalalithaa is in the jail. However the reason behind choosing him is an open secret as she will be able to run the show from behind until she is granted bail and latter comes into power as the chief minister again. Nothing will change except the person sitting on the chief minister’s chair. All the crucial decisions will still be taken by Jayalalithaa will Selvam will take charge till then. Whether this time also he will be choosing not to sit in her chair and take critical decisions? We will come to know soon as he will be taking the oath today.