Inside details: How EPS emerged winner in CM race?

AIADMK coordinator and Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam on Wednesday declared Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami as the party’s CM candidate for the Tamil Nadu Assembly election in 2021.

Palaniswami, who is the joint coordinator of the party, announced the members of a steering committee, which is OPS’s long-pending demand for the merger of factions after the death of former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa.

After hectic parleys in both the sides durng which some key promises were made, the issue was settled and  Panneerselvam was said to have backed out of the CM race and his persistent demand for forming a 11-member steering committee was agreed by Palaniswami and it was announced Wednesday.

Among the issues that had engaged the leaders in prolonged discussions were the composition of the proposed steering committee, the need for other committees for purposes like seat-sharing negotiations with prospective electoral partners and election propaganda work, and the possibility of changes in the functions and powers of key functionaries.

Asked why seniors like KA Sengottaiyan were not inducted into the steering committee, R Vaithilingam, Deputy Coordinator of the party said, “Already he has some key posts including organising secretary. But many more opportunities are there for others like election committee etc.,”

What OPS got at the end of the prolonged discussions was a steering committee that he had asked for in 2017, when he called a truce with EPS and returned to the party fold.

So the duo put up a united show for party cadre, the media, political observers and the people of Tamil Nadu. Finally, EPS announced the steering committee members and OPS announced the Chief Ministerial candidate amid cheering and applause.

What is significant is that even in the 11-member steering committee, six members are seen as EPS supporters. So the Chief Minister is likely to have the edge not only in the government but also in party matters.