Chennai: Jayalalithaa loyalist O Panneerselvam was on Monday sworn-in as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, succeeding his party supremo two days after her conviction in an illegal assets case.
An emotional Panneerselvam was seen wiping his eyes as he was sworn-in as Chief Minister by Governor K Rosaiah at the Raj Bhavan.
The new Chief Minister’s cabinet was also sworn-in by the Governor.
Government officials had feigned ignorance since morning when journalists of various establishments contacted them for information about the swearing-in ceremony.
63-year-old Panneerselvam, who is the AIADMK Treasurer, was unanimously elected as Leader of AIADMK Party Legislature yesterday following Jayalalithaa’s conviction and subsequent disqualification as MLA following her four year prison term awarded by the Bangalore Special Court in the Rs 66.65 crore disproportionate assets case.
Panneerselvam had submitted the letter to the Governor later following which the latter invited him to form a Ministry led by him.
He was chosen by AIADMK supremo J. Jayalalithaa as her successor after being unseated from the CM’s post after her conviction in the disproportionate assets case in Bengaluru on Saturday, and was formally elected the new leader at a meeting of AIADMK legislators at the party headquarters on Sunday.
A few hours later, at around 6.40 pm, Mr Panneerselvam, along with senior colleagues Natham Viswanathan, R. Vaithilingam and Edappady Palaniswami, met governor K. Rosaiah at the Raj Bhavan to present the letter and resolution passed by AIADMK legislators unanimously electing him as leader.
“The governor has invited him to form the ministry,” a Raj Bhavan release said.
For 63-year-old “OPS”, this will be his second term as chief minister. He is the first tea-seller to become a CM in India, long before Narendra Modi achieved this in Gujarat when Ms Jayalalithaa chose him as a “stopgap” after the Supreme Court made her step down due to her conviction in the Tansi land case in 2001. She returned to the seat after getting acquitted on appeal.
By ensuring he stayed clear of any controversy then and guaranteeing absolute loyalty to her, he became a natural choice as a safe successor now.
“OPS” was number two in Jayalalithaa’s Cabinet and her finance minister. He is likely to retain his earlier portfolios in addition to prominent ones, like police and general administration, that were being handled by her.