A competitive foreign trip is OPS’ answer to EPS

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and his deputy O Panneerselvam. (PTI File Photo)

The rivalry between Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and his deputy O Panneerselvam is legendary by now. But Panneerselvam, who stood for Jayalalithaa as Chief Minister twice when she had to quit due to court cases, has taken his rivalry with Palaniswami to the next level.

A competitive 10-day long foreign trip to the US along with his son and Theni MP O P Raveendranath Kumar is how Panneerselvam might want to heal his bruised ego, political observers say.

Two months after his ‘boss’ Palaniswami criss-crossed the US to “garner investments” to the state, the deputy chief minister will embark on a 10-day long tour from Friday to hold talks with authorities in World Bank and scout funds for housing projects, besides interacting with Tamil community.

Not to be left behind any politician who is honoured every time he steps onto foreign soil, Panneerselvam will also be bestowed with Rising Star of the Year – Asia by a little-known organisation American Multi-ethnic Coalition. He will also attend various events organised by Tamil associations in the US.

Political observers say the visit by Panneerselvam is nothing but a competitive one aimed at reasserting his position and sending out a political message that he is still relevant in the AIADMK’s scheme of things.

“Panneerselvam is side-lined in the AIADMK and there are no two opinions about it. By undertaking a tour like the Chief Minister, Panneerselvam feels he can drive home the point that he is still not a persona non-grata in the AIADMK,” a political commentator who wished anonymity told DH.

However, both Palaniswami and Panneerselvam are making every attempt to assert all is well between them despite the internal bickering within the party and government. Palaniswami drove to Panneerselvam’s residence and “wished him all the best” for his US visit.

The cold war between Palaniswami and Panneerselvam has been simmering ever since the BJP brought them together and forced to run the government and party together after the death of former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa.

Political commentator Ravindran Duraisamy says Panneerselvam’s ego issues are quite understandable since he had served as Chief Minister more than once. “At least the two leaders meeting before the visit is a picture that the AIADMK cadre would want to see. Though there is a cold war, the two leaders want to pretend all is well,” he told DH.

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