Amidst a pall of gloom following Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s death, senior AIADMK leader O. Panneerselvam was elected the leader of the Legislature Party shortly after Monday midnight and sworn in as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu.
At a solemn ceremony in the Raj Bhavan, Mr. Panneerselvam was administered the oath of office and secrecy by Governor Ch. Vidyasagar Rao. This was his third swearing-in as Chief Minister.
All 31 members of the outgoing Ministry were sworn in along with him.
As Jayalalithaa’s trusted man, Mr. Panneerselvam had stepped into her shoes for two brief periods — during 2001-02 and 2014-15 — after she was unseated by the courts.
The meeting of the Legislature Party was chaired by AIADMK presidium chairman E. Madhusoothanan, who was flanked by senior leaders including Mr. Panneerselvam, Edappadi K. Palaniswami, S.P. Velumani, Dindigul C. Sreenivasan and P. Thangamani.
With over four years to go for the present government, Mr. Panneerselvam will have the challenge of keeping the party together as it tries to reinvent itself in the post-Jayalalithaa period. At present, there seems no one in the AIADMK who can match the charisma of party founder M.G. Ramachandran or the leadership skills of Jayalalithaa, both of whom held sway over the masses for over four decades.
On a day of high drama, Mr. Panneerselvam, OPS as he is widely known, was at Apollo Hospitals till about 11 p.m.
Earlier, other party MLAs had left the hospital for the party headquarters, where they waited for him before electing him as the Legislature Party leader.
Only after it became evident that the death of Jayalalithaa would be announced did he leave for the party headquarters on Avvai Shanmugam Salai in Royapettah.