AIADMK supremo Sasikala elected legislature party chief, to take over as TN chief minister

Over a month after she took charge as AIADMK General Secretary following Jayalalithaa's demise, VK Sasikala was on Sunday elected legislature party leader, paving the way for her to become the third woman chief minister of Tamil Nadu.

At a meeting of party MLAs in Chennai, Chief Minister O Panneerselvam proposed the name of Sasikala as legislature party leader. 62-year-old Sasikala, also called 'Chinnamma' and Jayalalithaa's shadow in public for nearly three decades, later drove to the party headquarters where she was greeted by Panneerselvam and senior party leaders.

"It was Panneerselvam who had first persuaded me to become the chief minister and general secretary as well when Jayalalithaa passed away," Sasikala told party legislators.

She said the development has come "shattering the expectation of our political opponents that there will be a split in the party after the demise of our Amma (Jayalalithaa)."

After being elected legislature party leader, Sasikala said the AIADMK would strive for the welfare of the people of Tamil Nadu.



Sasikala had a special word of praise for the Panneerselvam, stating "whenever the party faced tough times and whenever there were difficulties in Amma becoming the chief minister, it was our dear brother Panneerselvam who has been loyal."

With her elevation, which comes over a month after she took charge as AIADMK general secretary on 31 December, Sasikala carries on the legacy of Jayalalithaa, who also held the two posts allowing her to wield complete control on the government and the party.

When Jayalalithaa was at the helm, Sasikala was considered to yield a huge clout behind the scenes. After taking charge of the party, she had pledged to take forward the legacy of the former chief minister.

Ever since Jayalalithaa's death, there has been a clamour that Sasikala should follow the earlier practice of both the party general secretary and the chief minister's post being vested with the same person.

Senior party leader and Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker M Thambidurai is among those who have backed Sasikala for the Chief Minister's post.

VK Sasikala on her first day as AIADMK general secretary. Image courtesy: @AIADMKOfficial

VK Sasikala on her first day as AIADMK general secretary. Image courtesy: @AIADMKOfficial

In December last year, four state ministers had asked Sasikala to become the Chief Minister, besides AIADMK General Secretary.

A resolution to this effect was passed at a meeting of Tirunelveli Urban Jaya Peravai (Forum), led by state AIADMK secretary and revenue minister R B Udhayakumar on 17 December.

On 3 February, Sasikala had appointed senior leaders, including some former Ministers and a former Mayor, to key party posts.

Sasikala belongs to the Thevar community, which has a dominant say in the AIADMK. Despite being close to Jayalalithaa, Sasikala maintained a low profile in the public.

Born in 1957 in Thiruthuraipoondi, about 330 km from Chennai, Sasikala was married to M Natarajan, a Public elations Officer with the Tamil Nadu government.

In the 1980s, Natarajan requested then South Arcot district Collector VS Chandralekha to introduce Sasikala to Jayalalithaa, then the AIADMK Propaganda Secretary.

Natarajan argued that Sasikala would help video record Jayalalithaa's functions. With Jayalalithaa finding Sasikala's work satisfactory, they graduated to becoming friends. After a while, Sasikala moved into the Poes Garden residence of Jayalalithaa in the heart of Chennai.

Sasikala slowly established her hold at Poes Garden by bringing in people whom she trusted.

Sasikala accompanied Jayalalithaa wherever the latter went. She would be invariably seated behind Jayalalithaa in the car.

Jayalalithaa publicly called Sasikala a sister not related by blood. But their relationship turned sour in 2011 and Jayalalithaa threw out Sasikala and her family members from her residence. But they later patched up, ensuring Sasikala's return to the AIADMK.

With inputs from PTI and IANS

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Updated Date: Feb 05, 2017 21:51:35 IST

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