Edappadi K Palaniswami, 63, minister for highways, minor ports and forests in the O Panneerselvam government till February 5, is now the formal successor to the late J Jayalalithaa as the party’s choice to lead the government of Tamil Nadu.
His name had reportedly come up as one of the possibles to succeed her after she passed away in hospital on December 5. However, O Panneerselvam was finally announced as the then choice. With his revolt against V K Sasikala’s leadership, and with Sasikala
convicted in a two-decade-old disproportionate assets case by the Supreme Court, it was Palaniswami who emerged as her choice to lead the legislative Assembly.
He was born in Andhiyur, Erode, on March 2, 1954, to V Karuppa Gounder. Agriculture is stated to be his occupation. He has been a MLA in 1989-1991, 1991-1996, and the tenure starting from 2011. He was made a minister in 2011, with the portfolios of highways and minor ports. After the 2016 win, public works was added to these.
He was also a Lok Sabha member in 1998-1999. In the past, he’s been chairman of the (government-owned) Tamil Nadu
Cement Corporation and the Salem Dairy. Palaniswami was elected as an MLA from Edappadi, Salem, his hometown, part of what is termed the Kongu belt. This is considered a stronghold for the Gounder caste, the upper strata of the backward caste community, from which Palaniswami also hails.