Chennai: Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami will embark on a tour of the UK, US and Dubai on Wednesday in a bid to attract investments and new technologies in various areas, including industry and health care. He returns home on September 10.
On this ambitious foreign trip, the first by a TN CM in two decades, Palaniswami will be accompanied by industries minister MC Sampath and health minister Dr C. Vijayabaskar, besides senior officials to assist at the various halts, where the delegation would hold meetings and sign MoUs with relevant organisations.
One of the MoUs will be with the International Human Resources Development Organisation in London, for development of better healthcare skills for the doctors and paramedics in the government hospitals in Tamil Nadu, according an official release here Monday.
Predictably, the CM’s foreign trip for almost a fortnight has stirred speculation whether Deputy CM O Panneerselvam will get to be the ‘Caretaker CM’ during that period. OPS had been the preferred choice to hold the fort twice in the past when the AIADMK supremo Jayalalithaa was prevented by court cases to rule the state despite the party winning the elections.
OPS became the CM a third time too, when Amma passed away early December, 2016, but resigned within three months allegedly due to pressure from Sasikala.
However, the question whether the thrice-CM OPS will get a fourth chance now, albeit for a very short period, was quickly settled with senior minister D Jayakumar declaring there’s no need for any ‘Caretaker CM’ as EPS “will be able to take all major decisions wherever he is, thanks to technology”.
“What Caretaker CM? The government is already taking ‘care’ of Tamil Nadu and its people”, quipped Jayakumar in his inimitable style, sporting a broad smile.
Perhaps this too is predictable considering that the EPS-OPS relations have been cold for quite some time and the CM may not wish to leave his portfolios in the care of the Deputy even for a brief time. Also, Jayakumar is quite right in saying that the Information Technology has made it easy for any leader to conduct his administration from any part of the world, through video conferencing if need be.
Deputy CM OPS has been reportedly upset that he was being ignored in matters of state governance and party administration even though he had been CM thrice in the past and he is now the AIADMK’s coordinator while EPS is the party's co-coordinator.
Sources say he has resigned himself to the position of being the no. 2, hoping that it would at least guarantee there would be no impediment to his son Ravindranath Kumar getting a berth in the Union Cabinet when Prime Minister Modi decides to expand his team.
It should be said to the credit of EPS that he has been able to consolidate his control over the state administration and also the AIADMK party through deft management of men and matters. And now this foreign trip could well turn out to be a new colourful feather in his cap, particularly if he returns with some significant commitments towards investments and upgrading of skills.