Why is Panneerselvam Jayalalithaa’s Blue-Eyed Boy?

Chennai, Oct 14: Every time Jayalalithaa vanishes either to a jail or to hospital, it is O Panneerselvam, the demure and pious looking politician, who keeps the seat warm for Amma. Like the faithful Bharata in Ramayana, OPS ruled Tamil Nadu twice – in 2001 and 2014 – in Jaya’s absence. This is the third time that he will be virtually the acting Chief Minister as he has been allocated all the portfolios that Amma handled.

So, why is OPS Jaya’s darling political boy? Sources say OPS is extremely loyal, never murmurs even when Jaya shows him the door and is extremely trust worthy. He will never plan anything behind Jaya’s back. For him, Amma is God.

He had earlier fallen out of Jaya’s favour last March but continued to admit and apologise for mistakes he or his family was supposed to have committed. Finally Jaya gave in eventually leading to a patch-up.

Jaya was seen as being less harsh on OPS than the others and he is also said to have the confidence of her close aide Sasikala Natarajan. OPS and Sasikala belong to the Thevar community, a politically powerful OBC community in the state.

But unlike Amma, OPS does not come across as a commanding leader himself. Many political leaders in Tamil Nadu say he is a rather shy person. Like Narendra Modi, OPS also started his career as a chaiwala. But the similarity ends there.