Sasikala the Next ‘Ammaiyar’? Leaders Want Her to Head AIADMK
Sasikala presently holds no posts in the party, but is widely expected to become its next chief.
Less than five days after late Chief Minister and AIADMK supremo Jayalalithaa passed away, the ruling party appears to be laying the groundwork for her close aide Sasikala Natarajan to take over as general secretary.
This comes after senior AIADMK leaders urged Sasikala at Jayalalithaa’s Poes Garden residence to take over as supremo on Saturday. Visuals of party functionaries appealing to “Chinna Amma” with folded hands at the portico of Veda Nilayam was beamed on party mouthpiece Jaya TV. The channel even went so far as to call Sasikala, “Ammaiyar” repeatedly during the course of the broadcast.
Speaking to Jaya TV, former Chennai mayor and senior party leader Saidai Duraisamy said:
Our only aim is to defeat DMK. Anyone who supports MGR and Amma, will support Sasikalama... She has spent years with the former CM. She knows everything about our Amma and understand her and the party. So at a time of crisis like this, who else can lead the party?
Former minister Valarmathi also voiced support for “Chinna Amma” stating, "Those opposing our decision are people who are trying to fish in troubled water. We are all united. We met respected Chinna Amma and pleaded with her to be our leader. Many cried to her saying save our party. Many of us told that she learnt everything from Amma and she is the only one who can lead us."
At one point Jaya TV anchor (the channel is owned by AIADMK) said that crores of Tamilians want Sasikala to lead AIADMK.
Another senior AIADMK leader Gokula Indira said that Jayalalithaa had told them many times that Sasikala was the only one who understood her completely. "Chinna Amma needs to come to lead, only then can this party fulfil all of Amma's dreams," she added.
The AIADMK's IT team has been vigorously propagating the move. A clip from Jayalalithaa's Simi Garewal interview in which she talks about her association with Sasikala was being shared by AIADMK members on social media.
Speaking to the media on Saturday at the AIADMK headquarters in Royapettah, spokesperson C Ponnaiyan had said the party would act in a democratic manner, calling for a general council meeting to decide the next leader.
"MGR and Amma aatma will guide us in selecting new the general secretary and there is no competition for this post", he said at the press conference.
In the past three days, TN Chief Minister O Pannerselvam, top ministers and police officers have held meetings with Sasikala at Jayalalithaa's Poes Garden residence. There has been much criticism over ministers and police officers paying obeisance to Sasikala.
Ponnaiyan said there was nothing wrong in the CM, ministers, DGP and Chief Secretary going to Poes Garden.
Why can’t they meet Sasikala Amma? What is wrong in meeting her? She is an important person in the party. The CM is part of the government, but he is also part of the party. The party’s affairs have to go on and he needs to discuss about the party.
Sasikala presently holds on no posts in the party.
On 19 December 2011, Jayalalithaa had expelled Sasikala from the AIADMK’s executive council along with 13 of her close relatives. She was, however, back months later after a public written apology. In her letter that was released to the press, Sasikala stated:
For 24 years, I have been living under the same roof. I have no ambitions either in the party or in the government. I have always devoted my life to ‘akka’ and the rest of my life will be to serve her.
Jayalalithaa has occupied the post of general secretary for 27 years.
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