If there is one politician who does not have a spine in politics, it should be O Panneerselvam. He has now stepped down as chief minister for the third time. Though humble and loyal, he is not a leader who could fight the power-hungry in the AIADMK.
O Panneerselvam, Tamil Nadu’s chaiwalla who went on to become a political leader, is often referred to as a puppet chief minister. On Sunday, he was forced to step down for the third time after keeping the Chief Minister’s chair warm – first for Amma, and now for Chinamma.
The 65-year-old politician is known for his humility and loyalty – two traits that do not have any value in current day politics..
Known as Man Friday of late chief minister Jayalalithaa, OPS first became CM in 2001 when Supreme Court barred Jayalalithaa from holding the post.
He quit without any fuss after six months when Jaya was ready to take charge. Again he was made CM in 2014 when Jaya was convicted in the disproportionate assets case, only to quit seven months later.
This time he was CM for only a month. With Jayalalithaa no longer around to guide him when every file would be vetted by Jaya before OPS as CM signed them, OPS had to do his job alone with the help of advisers like Sheela Balakrishnan.
OPS attempted to assert himself as CM despite pressure from ministers in his own cabinet who were eager to put Sasikala in the CM’s chair. The independence he showed indicated his eagerness to hold on to the CM’s post but he lacked political shrewdness to take on his challengers and become a power centre.
He had BJP’s tacit backing, a large section of cadres were behind him, and even public opinion was in favour of him. But he did not have the spine or courage to take on Sasikala