From running a tea shop to assuming charge as the chief minister of Tamil Nadu, O Panneerselvam’s political journey has been full of unexpected twists even as he is set to be crowned “king”.
Handpicked by his mentor-leader Jayalalitha for the job, Panneerselvam, fondly known as OPS, has been with “Amma” through thick and thin. His loyalty and devotion to her has been unparalleled and interminable.
He was her Man Friday in whom she could vest political and administrative responsibilities. OPS maintains a low profile. Panneerselvam (63), of Theni district and considered to be “very silent” by nature, won the Bodinayakanur seat when AIADMK stormed to power in May 2011. His tea stall is now looked after by his relatives.
He entered politics in 1996 and became the head of a local body in his region. In 2001 he was elected to the Assembly from Periakulam by a good margin. After entering into the good books of Jayalalitha, he became the revenue minister in 2001 and PWD and excise minister in 2002.
Panneerselvam also held the post of the opposition leader in the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly, after the party lost the elections in May 2006. He has been twice elected to the Assembly from Periakulam constituency. Jayalalitha honoured him with the important portfolios of finance when the party came back to power in 2011.