"BJP chief Amit Shah had a word with me and we have accepted his request and decided to support Ram Nath Kovind, the NDA candidate for President. Kovind is best fit for the job and we have supported him based on his credentials," former Chief Minister O Panneerselvam said.
Mr Palaniswami has not just backed Mr Kovind, but is also arriving in New Delhi to accompany him when he files nomination papers for the top post on Friday. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had phoned Mr Palaniswami to seek his support for Mr Kovind, the AIADMK said.
The BJP and its allies have about 48 per cent of the vote in the presidential elections and with the support of regional parties like the AIADMK and Biju Janata Dal or BJD will have more than 60 per cent, which will ensure a smooth election for Mr Kovind if the opposition forces a contest by fielding a candidate.
Mr Palaniswami is a member of the faction called the AIADMK (Amma) whose chief VK Sasikala is in prison in Bengaluru in a corruption case. On Tuesday, her nephew and party leader TTV Dinakaran had said Ms Saiskala would decide on whether to back the BJP's nominee for President.
Ms Sasikala, who was Ms Jayalaliathaa's longtime companion, quickly ensured her selection as party chief. It was when she moved to take over as Chief Minister in place of O Panneerselvam that the latter rebelled.
The party split but most legislators backed Ms Sasikala, whose plan to become Chief minister fell through after the Supreme Court convicted her and sent her to jail. Before she left for Bengaluru, she ensured that her loyalist E Palaniswami was installed as chief minister.