Chennai: O. Panneerselvam was the blue-eyed boy of the BJP Government at the Centre not so long ago. But the message on the wall on Thursday was that he no longer enjoys the same status.
The deputy chief minister met Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with his confidant V. Maitreyan on Thursday leading to speculation that there was a rift between him and chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami.
However, after the 40-minute meeting, Panneerselvam told reporters that politics was not discussed with Modi and the deliberations touched upon issues concerning the state.
Did not discuss politics with Modi, says Panneerselvam
“There is no truth in reports that there is a rift between me and the Chief Minister. Only those who don’t understand Tamil Nadu politics will say such things,” Panneerselvam told reporters, when asked whether he discussed his rift with Modi.
Speculation was rife that Panneerselvam was being sidelined in the EPS Government and he was meeting Modi only to discuss the issues between him and the Chief Minister. It intensified after Electricity minister P. Thangamani did not accompany Panneerselvam for the meeting with the Prime Minister.
Though OPS’ confidants K.P. Munusamy and Manoj Pandian went with Panneerselvam to the PM’s residence, only Maitreyan accompanied the deputy Chief Minister to the meeting.
“I did not discuss politics with the Prime Minister. I submitted a wish list from the CM to the PM and requested help from Centre for several projects. As far as the Chief Minister is concerned, he consults everyone - all cabinet colleagues - before taking any decision. So, there is no rift,” he said.
Panneerselvam, during his heyday as the blue-eyed boy, had met Prime Minister several times when the BJP was keen on the merger of two factions and he was kept in good humour. But he seemed to have lost the edge after he merged his faction and agreed to be deputy to EPS.
Sources said Panneerselvam has enough reasons to be upset with Palaniswami since the Chief Minister has met none of his demands. OPS’ confidant Manoj Pandian has been waiting for the plum post of Special Representative of the Tamil Nadu Government to New Delhi and S. Semmalai wishes to be included in the cabinet.
“Most of his supporters are upset since only OPS and MaFoi were accommodated in the Cabinet and Munusamy was made deputy coordinator of the party. Others who stood by him have been ignored by EPS”, a senior leader said.