Chennai: Who will be Tamil Nadu's new Chief Minister? This is being debated animatedly in the state following the conviction of Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa in connection with a corruption case.
After being sentenced to four years in prison, Jayalalithaa loses her Tamil Nadu Assembly membership and the Chief Minister's post. The Bangalore court also fined her Rs 100 crore.
So, who will now head the AIADMK government in her absence? This is not the first time such a question has cropped up.
Names of many diehard loyalists have been floated since her conviction. State Finance Minister O Panneerselvam has emerged the strongest probable.
In September 2001, the actor-turned-politician, Panneerselvam, was sown-in as Tamil Nadu Chief Minister after appointment of the then CM Jayalalithaa was quashed by the Supreme Court. In March 2002, he resigned as Chief Minister and Jayalalithaa was sworn-in after the Supreme Court overturned her conviction.
During his stint as Chief Minister, he was widely criticized of heading a puppet government closely micro-managed by AIADMK chief. The posting was done only because of his loyalty to Jayalalithaa.
In 2011, he was appointed as Finance Minister when AIADMK stormed back to power. This year, Jayalalithaa gave him additional charge of public works department.
Panneerselvam is also the first person from Thevar caste to become the CM of Tamil Nadu.
AIADMK leaders do not rule out re-run of such an arrangement.
There is also talk of a non-politician being given the post till Jayalalithaa gets free from various legal tangles.