But having become one, Palaniswami, in all probability, may remain a figure head and the reins of the state administration, for all practical purposes, would be with AIADMK deputy general secretary TTV Dinakaran. Also, the long shadow of Sasikala from the Bengaluru prison would continue to be cast on the CM.
It is common knowledge that loyalty quotient and complete submission to the writ of Sasikala are the only factors that secured Palaniswami the coveted post. "An unassuming man, Palaniswami's ability to function independently remains farfetched," said Kongunadu Makkal Desiya Katchi general secretary E R Easwaran.
Palaniswami may also have to report to R P Ravanan, yet another member of the Mannargudi family, who was instrumental in promoting him ever since Kongu region strongman K A Sengottaiyan - now a minister - introduced him, said a party functionary.
Sensing the onset of a Mannargudi 'raj', DMK working president M K Stalin called upon Palaniswami to work within the framework of the Constitution and not be remote controlled by Sasikala.
Dinakaran and his cousin S Venkatesh, who was re-inducted into the party after a gap of five years by Sasikala on Wednesday, have been calling shots in the state administration ever since Jayalalithaa's death. The two were responsible for packing off former adviser to the government Sheela Balakrishnan and secretaries to the chief minister - K N Venkataramanan and A Ramalingam - earlier this month.
The Palaniswami-Dinakaran duo is all set to churn the state bureaucracy, which they feel is "infested" with O Panneerselvam (OPS) loyalists. Dinakaran has prepared a list of officials for key positions, sources said. They are expected to help him execute his agenda of strengthening his position within the party as well as in the administration. The first casualty in the new government could be Tamil Nadu intelligence chief S Davidson Devasirvatham, appointed by OPS only on Monday. Some heads might roll for registering cases of abduction, illegal confinement and wrongful restraint against chief minister Palaniswami and Sasikala based on a complaint from AIADMK Madurai south MLA S S Saravanan.