If sources are to be believed, Selvaperunthagai was not the popular choice. Two-time MLA from Killiyur, Rajesh Kumar, who has been elected deputy legislature party leader, was said have been the first choice followed by Colachel MLA JG Prince for the CLP post.
A senior leader admitted to differences within TNCC ranks over CLP appointment and said, “Selvam’s appointment was a surprise. Rajesh and Prince were hot favourites. Rajesh represents a community (Nadar), who are traditionally our loyalists from the south. Five of our 18 MLAs hail from the community. One could argue that electing a Dalit MLA as CLP was a good gesture. But, politically, we should have picked Rajesh. It would have satisfied our loyal supporters.”
Interactions with party insiders revealed that Colachel MLA Prince opted out and threw his weight behind Rajesh, who briefly had the backing of TNCC chief KS Alagiri, to prevent Vilavacode MLA Vijayadharani from becoming the leader of the third largest party in the House.
“TNCC chief had picked Selvam to stop the woman MLA,” the Congress leader said. “Electing a Dalit is welcome. It will be appreciated by critics. However, it will not help win over Dalits, ” said a TNCC senior on condition of anonymity.