He was one of four ministers tasked by Jayalalithaa, who died on December 5, to advise her on party affairs.
The Minister of Public Works, Highways and Minor Ports in the outgoing Chief Minister O. Pannerselvam’s cabinet, Palaniswami was ranked number three in seniority.
He was tipped for the Chief Minister’s post after Jayalalithaa died but that did not happen.
Hailing from Nedungulam village in Salem district, Palaniswami belongs to the Gounder community.
He joined the AIADMK in the 1980s and was a Jayalaltihaa supporter when the party split after its founder M.G. Ramachandran’s death in December 1987.
He first entered the Tamil Nadu assembly in 1989 from Edapadi constituency and retained the seat in 1991.
A farmer by profession, Palaniswami was on the sidelines for some time as he lost the Edapadi seat in 2006. He came back to limelight in 2011 after winning from the constituency.
Jayalalithaa inducted him as the Minister for State Highways and Minor Posts.
In the 2016 election, he won from Edapadi with a margin over 42,000 votes and was included in the Jayalalithaa ministry as the Minister for Public Works, Highways and Minor Ports.
After the Supreme Court upheld the earlier conviction of the now jailed AIADMK General Secretary V.K. Sasikala, she picked him as her successor as the leader of the party legislature wing.