Sixty-two-year-old Edappadi K Palanisamy, is associated with the party from 1974. The ardent MGR loyalist belongs to the dominant Kongu Vellala Gounder community in this region. The 43-year journey of the four-time MLA and former MP has had gradual and steady progress, not without ups and downs.
Palanisamy is the second of the two sons of Karuppa Gounder and Thavasiammal, farmers by profession. Born on March 12, 1954, at Siluvampalayam village in Edappadi, Salem district, he joined the party at the young age of 20 years under the influence of his parents who were ardent supporters of former Chief Minister MG Ramachandran.
His parents were with the DMK and switched to AIADMK when the actor- turned Chief Minister floated the party.
Palanisamy began elementary schooling at Koneripatti and later at Siluvampalayam before he continued schooling in Erode. He joined B.Sc. in a private college in Erode but discontinued his studies. He joined his father’s sugar business before taking up agriculture in his native village. Palanisamy began his political journey in 1974 as the Siluvampalayam branch secretary of the AIADMK during his student days and was more focused on his political activities than studies. Following MGR’s demise, he accepted the leadership of former Chief Minister and the then General Secretary J Jayalalithaa. He contested the 1989 election under the rooster symbol from Edappadi assembly and was successfully elected as MLA for the first time.
He was once against elected as the MLA of Edappadi assembly segment in 1991. He was elected as a Member of Parliament from Tiruchengode constituency in 1998 and was an MP for a year. After that, it was a series of failures for him for more than a decade, where he lost two assembly and two Lok Sabha elections. After a 15-year gap, he was once again elected as Edappadi MLA in 2011 and again in 2016. During his tenure, from 2011 he was elevated as minister for the first time and held the portfolio of Highways and Minor Ports and later, the Public Works Department.
Palanisamy was also one of the top four ministers collectively known as the Naal var Ani that was close to Jayalalithaa. This made him one of the four prime gateways to take information to Jayalalithaa. His name was doing rounds for the Chief Minister’s post during the last few days of Jayalalithaa.
Following her demise, he seamlessly became a prominent leader in the Sasikala faction of the party. Following his elevation as AIADMK’s new Legislature Party leader on Tuesday, Salem City Police provided protection to his house at Nedunjalai Nagar in Salem, while the district police provided security to his house in his native village. Married to Radha, the farmer by profession has a son by name Mithun Kumar, who is married to Divya.