Edappadi’s emergence as an assertive leader
When Jayalalithaa was the Chief Minister, Edappadi K. Palaniswami, who was then holding the Highways portfolio in her Cabinet, once gave a response to a query on the delay in payment to government contractors that caught the MLA who asked the question unawares.
“I know the concern of the member because he is also a contractor,” he said and, in the process, exposed the motive of the Opposition member who raised the question — an art mastered by very seasoned politicians. Jayalalithaa was not in the House at the time.
In hindsight, Mr. Palaniswami, now the Chief Minister, had in him a knack for political manoeuvring, but was overshadowed by the presence of a powerful mass leader like Jayalalithaa. Like every other Cabinet colleague of Jayalalithaa, he too was happy to project himself as a mere student who desired to be guided by the teacher, instead of giving the impression that he had a grip on the administration of his departments.
However, after the passing away of Jayalalithaa and the subsequent rebellion by her successor O. Panneerselvam, when opportunities presented themselves before him, Mr. Palaniswami grabbed them tightly and has since begun asserting himself as a leader, both as Chief Minister and co-coordinator of the AIADMK.