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Sasikala’s ascent to top Tamil Nadu post was only natural, but wasn’t smooth

Some of the developments leading to the day’s events also hint that the transfer of reins between O Panneerselvam and Sasikala may not have been amicable.

Written by Kanishka Singh | New Delhi |
February 5, 2017 5:09:16 pm
Sasikala, jayalalithaa, jayalalitha, jaya, amma, j jayalalithaa, sasikala, aiadmk, sasikala news, aiadmk sasikala, sasikala general secretary, v k sasikala, sasikala aiadmk (Illustration by Manali Ghosh)

AIADMK unanimously elected Sasikala Natarajan as the head of the party’s legislature party, setting the stage for her becoming the next chief minister of Tamil Nadu. Some of the developments leading to the day’s events also hint that the transfer of reins between O Panneerselvam and Sasikala may not have been amicable.

O Panneerselvam, who took charge as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu after the demise of former chief minister J Jayalalithaa, resigned from his post laying the ground for Sasikala’s appointment as the executive chief of the state as well.

After the death of Jayalaithaa, O. Panneerselvam was appointed chief minister rather hurriedly. Sasikala, Jayalalithaa’s close aide, was subsequently named the party’s General Secretary.

Sasikala’s ascent to the top of Tamil Nadu politics and state government was only a matter of time since then as she got complete control over the party, and now the legislature party as well. AIADMK’s official Twitter handle has tweeted “Chinamma (Sasikala) all set to become the next Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu”.

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A sectional tussle had continued after Jayalalithaa’s death where party leaders wanted both the Chief Minister’s position and the post of party General Secretary to remain in the hands of one leader ending the possibilities of two power centres, like what were emerging since December.

Interestingly, the 61-year-old has never held a post in the party and is not an elected member in the state assembly.

A team of bureuacrats who were appointed by Jayalalithaa were transferred by Panneerselvam while Sheela Balakrishnan was also relieved from her position. Sheela had been appointed as advisor to the Tamil Nadu government after she retired in 2014 as the Chief Secretary in the state. Two more secretaries–Venkataramanan and Ramalingam, who were said to be loyalists of Jayalalithaa and Sasikala just like Sheela, were relieved of their duties. Sasikala also added 23 office bearers to the party in addition to the existing 38.

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