Posters hailing AIADMK top leader O Panneerselvam as the only Chief Ministerial candidate blessed by late party supremo J Jayalalithaa for the 2021 Assembly elections were found stuck on walls at several places in Theni districton on Saturday (August 15), creating a flutter in the party.
Against the backdrop of a recent debate among ministers over the candidate for the polls, the posters that appeared in the native district of Panneerselvam, the Deputy Chief Minister, assumes significance.
A poster said Panneerselvam “is the one and only Chief Minister blessed by Puratchi Thalaivi” (Revolutionary leader, a reference to Jayalalithaa), apparently indicating that he should be the Chief Ministerial candidate for the election and that he was chosen by the late leader to be the Chief Minister twice (2001 and 2014) while she was alive.
Another said he was the “Chief Minister” for the ordinary people and the poor and blessed by Amma.
Another one hailed him as the “permanent Chief Minister”. A common tag line found in a variety of posters was #2021 CM for OPS, suggesting that Panneerselvam should be the CM candidate.
The slogans in the posters were attributed to the “Kenjampatti village people” in Bodinayakanur union in Theni district and were found in locations, including Periyakulam, (home town of Panneerselvam) and Theni in the district.
Images of Chief Minister K Palaniswami, party icons, Jayalalithaa and AIADMK founder MG Ramachandran were displayed in the posters.
When asked, party office-bearers here said, “This has got nothing to do with Panneerselvam. Some functionaries may have done this at a personal level.
A party functionary asked: “Why were some ministers not questioned when they said Palaniswami should be the Chief Minister in 2021? When that is the case why should they take exception to such posters now?”
Leading to speculations of a factional feud, a debate on “Chief Ministerial candidate” was triggered after AIADMK’s Madurai based leader and Minister Sellur K Raju days ago said the Chief Minister would be chosen by elected MLAs while another Minister K T Rajenthra Bhalaji favoured projecting the incumbent as the CM candidate.
Party deputy coordinator K P Munsamy had said the AIADMK top leadership would take a decision on the Chief Ministerial candidate for Assembly elections and announce it at an appropriate time.
Later, Panneerselvam had urged party men to be united and act responsibly.
“The AIADMK’s only goal is to emerge victorious for the third time in a row in the Assembly elections to be held in 2021. Victory is honourable Amma’s dream. To realise it, it is my appeal that we should act responsibly with a sense of duty, dignity and discipline,” Panneerselvam, who is the party coordinator, the top post, had said on his Twitter handle.
Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami is the co-coordinator.