The Edappadi strongman

The Edappadi strongman

Edappadi K Palaniswami was sworn in as the 13th chief minister of Tamil Nadu, thanks to AIADMK general secretary V K Sasikala who had no other option but to make him the legislature party leader after her conviction in the disproportionate assets case.

Hailing from the Kongu Vellala Gounder community from Nedungulam in Salem district, 62-year-old Palaniswami is a science graduate and a farmer by occupation.

He joined the AIADMK in 1974 and was elected to the Assembly four times – 1989, 1991, 2011 and 2016 – all from Edappadi constituency. Palaniswami is among those leaders who strongly backed Jayalalithaa when the party was in a crisis following the death of its founder M G Ramachandran in 1987. Jayalalithaa instantly rewarded him for his loyalty with a party ticket, and he won the first election in 1989 and retained his seat in 1991. In 1998, Palaniswami was elected to the Lok Sabha from Tiruchengode. But he was sidelined for many years and returned to limelight only in 2011 after he was inducted into the Cabinet for the first time.

Jayalalithaa allocated the Highways and Minor Ports portfolio to Palaniswami, and he soon won her confidence and retained his post through the five-year term and was again inducted post 2016 polls. He was ranked number four in the Cabinet but is now the chief minister. Soon after Jayalalithaa’s death, Palaniswami was the first leader to ask Sasikala to take over as the chief minister.

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