With Jayalalithaa in Hospital, Her Adviser Calls the Shots in TN

Sheela Balakrishnan is a retired IAS officer who holds now court with top officials queuing up for instructions.

2 min read
Some have raised questions about how the Tamil Nadu administration is being run in the absence of Jayalalithaa. (Photo Courtesy: Twitter/<a href="https://twitter.com/gopalanchennai">@<b>gopalanchennai</b></a>)

As Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa gets treated at Chennai's Apollo Hospital, it is her adviser Sheela Balakrishnan who is said to be running the state.

Balakrishnan, 62, a retired IAS officer, holds court these days with top officials queuing up for instructions.

“Even ministers are taking instructions from her,” pointed out a top official who did not wish to be named.

“Jayalalithaa has implicit trust in Balakrishnan, both for her abilities and attitude, which is why she has become the most important person in the state today. Nothing moves without her consent,” he added.

A few people in Tamil Nadu have raised questions about how the administration is being run in the absence of Jayalalithaa, who has been in hospital for the last 10 days.

On Tuesday, the Madras High Court ordered the state government to inform the court about her health within two days after an activist filed a petition seeking clarity.

Top officials visiting the Apollo hospital say their visits are for twin purposes: To check on the chief minister’s health and to also seek guidance from Balakrishnan, reported Hindustan Times.

The 1976-batch IAS officer hailing from Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala is said to be operating from a room close to that of Jayalalithaa. Another room on the same floor is occupied by Sasikala, a long-time aide of the chief minister.

Balakrishnan retired in 2014 but was soon appointed the CM's official adviser.

It is in her capacity as Jayalalithaa’s most-trusted adviser that Balakrishnan is calling all the shots, insiders told Hinudstan Times. Influential such as O Panneerselvam, who became the chief minister twice when Jayalalithaa had to step down because of legal troubles, play marginal roles.

Balakrishnan is ensuring that the administration runs smoothly with the help of another retired IAS officer, Santha Sheela Nair, who sits in the chief minister’s office in the state secretariat. She has been appointed as Officer on Special Duty (OSD) in the CM’s office.

MG Devasahayam, a former top bureaucrat, pointed out that Balakrishnan, with more than three decades of administrative experience, has the required acumen to run the state. She first got into Jayalalithaa’s good books while serving in the chief minister’s secretariat in 2002.

When the DMK came to power, she was sidelined. But she staged a comeback when Jayalalithaa stormed back to power in 2011. Her bond with the chief minister grew further, and in 2012 when the chief secretary’s post fell vacant, she even superseded her IAS-husband R Balakrishnan to occupy the top administrative position.

(Source: Hindustan Times)

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