Political uncertainty has loomed large over Tamil Nadu and its people since the passing away of its beloved leader Jayalalithaa. As a strong administrator, Jayalalithaa had offered the people a stable government, tackled issues and anticipated solutions to people’s needs with populist initiatives that crowned her in their minds as “Amma.”
Following her death, there was tremendous grief but a sense of stability was restored temporarily when O Panneerselvam, her trusted and carefully handpicked loyalist, took charge as Chief Minister. The people too had no difficulties in accepting O Panneerselvam simply because he wasn’t a raw leader pushed to take up a huge responsibility but one who was trusted several times.
Given the latest developments since last night, it is clear that O Panneerselvam is ready to take on VK Sasikala and this open revolt will be a game of numbers. This morning, O Panneerselvam told the media confidently, “Will prove majority in the House.”
There cannot be a clearer challenge to Sasikala than this.
O Panneerselvam is not a populist leader with mass following like MGR or Jayalalithaa but he is not as clueless about the system and its finer working as Sasikala Natarajan. His dissent spells good news for Tamil Nadu – here’s why:
OPS is an experienced and able administrator with a practical, hands-on approach to tackling problems. Less talk, more work – has been his signature style of functioning.
His experience is not confined to one or two years but several years of working closely with Jayalalithaa in different capacities of decision making. He is known to have been trusted by Jayalalithaa and had been functioning as CM before, with Amma’s blessings. Her trust, in a way, is what endears him to the people as ”Amma’s chosen one.”
Decision making at the highest level of a state requires confidence-building measures at several levels within the party and it needs to be supported by the co-operative effort of the state’s backbone – namely, the top bureaucrats. With an able administrator like OPS, the state’s working machinery has been functioning harmoniously and with precision. This is because OPS knows how the bureaucratic system works and that understanding comes from years of experience as an administrator.
While tackling Cyclone Vardah, O Panneerselvam lost no time in taking decisions, communicating seamlessly and coordinating with the bureaucracy and fast tracking implementation. He visited relief camps, distributed relief materials to those who were evacuated from their homes and visited coastal towns that were affected. He saw to it that fishermen and their grievances are addressed. He communicated directly with the officials and bureacrats to make sure that relief work continues smoothly.
During the Jallikattu crisis, O Panneerselvam again took swift action and also saw to it that his Cabinet members are briefed regularly and that the Centre is kept well informed about all developments.
Most importantly, Tamil Nadu needs a corruption-free, stable government which is headed by an able leader with trusted political credentials and remains accountable to the people. From his past track record as Tamil Nadu CM, O Panneerselvam fits the description perfectly.