Jayalalithaa’s long time aide Sasikala appears all set to take over the mantle of AIADMK General Secretary with senior party leaders and state ministers urging her to assume the post, asserting that she alone will now be able to lead the party.
A plea urging her to step into the shoes of Jayalalithaa was made by a delegation of leaders including AIADMK presidium chairman E Madhusudanan and Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker Thambidurai when they called on Sasikala or ‘Chinnamma’ as she is referred to by party workers at the Poes Garden residence of the late chief minister.
“After Amma it is only Chinnamma. Chinnamma follows Amma’s footsteps,” said Thambidurai, whose name was doing the round for the post, adding that he told Sasikala that the party and welfare of the people was in her hands.
“We told her that we are with you,” he said. “I urged her to come forward to take up responsibility of being party General Secretary and guide us,” he told Jaya Plus Tamil TV channel.
“This is a people’s party. It was Puratchi Thalaivi Amma who functioned understanding the people’s pulse. Chinnamma follows Amma’s footsteps. Hence, leaving no scope for a void, Chinnamma should immediately assume the position of party general secretary,” he said, adding he was confident that she would accept the request.
He said the party is of the “unanimous” opinion that it was Sasikala who should lead the party.
Sasikala, 60, has been a close aide of Jayalalithaa for three decades and has always been seen as a power centre in the party.
Thambidurai asserted that there are no two opinions in this regard in the party. All party workers, district secretaries, MPs, MLAs and all other functionaries were one on the issue.
He said like Jayalalithaa who fought for the State’s rights and people’s welfare, it is “Chinnamma” who had the “strength and ability” to work for welfare of the people, the State and the party.
In what appeared to be an orchestrated campaign, a host of state ministers, including Dindigul C Srinivasan and Electricity Minister P Thangamani expressed similar sentiments in interviews to the channel.
The leaders who called on Sasikala included former Ministers K A Sengottaiyan, B Valarmathi, Gokula Indira, former Chennai Mayor Saidai Duraisamy, party spokesperson C R Saraswathy and senior leader A Tamil Magan Hussain.
They urged Sasikala to lead AIADMK and scotch “rumours” at this critical juncture for the party in view of the demise of Jayalalithaa.
There were enough hints earlier about Sasikala’s possible elevation with AIADMK Organisational Secretary C Ponnaiyan saying there was nothing wrong in the Chief Minister and key party leaders consulting her. He had also asserted that the General Secretary would be elected soon and party remained united.
Former Minister and sitting MLA Sengottaiyan said, “We told Chinnamma that only she has to assume full responsibility for the party. We told her that only she is eligible to lead the AIADMK and has the ability to organise the party.” He said only Sasikala, who was with Amma for decades, could lead the party. “There is no one else except Chinnamma to guard the party of over a crore workers,” he said adding she should assume the responsibility soon on an auspicious day.
Sengottaiyan said all party workers who had turned up today voiced the same opinion, exhorting her to lead the party. “To end unnecessary rumours we urged her to take charge as General Secretary soon,” he said.
Former Minister B Valarmathi said Sasikala should lead the party. “She has more than 30 years of tutelage by Amma. She has been the shadow of Amma… Only she has the maturity to lead the party in a disciplined fashion,” she said.
“What is wrong in expecting a person identified by Amma to assume the top leadership ? Only she should come. It is our desire,” Valarmathi said.
Saidai Duraisamy said Sasikala had been the pivot of the party and continued to be so.”Only she was aware of what Amma had in mind. Only such a person could protect the party.” He said party senior functionaries had urged her to take on the top mantle to ensure that the party continues to function well.
Only some who were outside the party and a few disgruntled elements were against Sasikala, he said.
Meanwhile, Jaya Plus Television Channel, a pro-AIADMK Tamil News channel, aired the opinions of a host of AIADMK functionaries and state ministers, who lent support for Sasikala and urged her to assume the top party position soon.
Agriculture Minister R Duraikannu, Forest Minister Dindigul C Srinivasan, Electricity Minister P Thangamani, Revenue Minister, R B Udhaya Kumar, Food Minister R Kamaraj, Dairy Minister K T Rajendra Balaji and former Minister Thoppu N D Venkatachalam were among them who urged her to assume the top post.