Chennai: With Tamil Nadu Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao accepting the resignation of Chief Minister O Panneerselvam on Monday, Sasikala Natarajan may formally take over the reins as early as February 7 morning.
According to an NDTV report, Sasikala will take oath as Tamil Nadu Chief Minister on February 7 and the swearing-in ceremony will take place at Madras University hall at 8.30 am.
Panneerselvam’s resignation came after Sasikala was elected the Legislature Party Leader. On February 5, she was unanimously elected as the leader of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s (AIADMK) legislature party.
The AIADMK said that it was unwise for the party and government to have different power centers in the state and therefore, vociferously demanded Sasikala’s elevation and O. Panneerselvam’s removal.
In her four-minute speech, Sasikala expressed her gratitude to the elected representatives and party workers for “shattering the dreams of rivals who wanted to see the party split.”
She praised Panneerselvam who, she said, stood loyal whenever the party faced tough times and when there were difficulties in Jayalalithaa continuing as the chief minister.
Meanwhile, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) leader T.K.S. Elangovan said, “No party can go against wishes of the people. The MLAs might have chosen Sasikala, whether the people will accept her as the Chief Minister has to be seen. The future of Tamil Nadu has spoiled since 2011 when the AIADMK came to power.”
Resonating similar sentiments, Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge said, “Sasikala Natarajan isn’t the primary member of her party. If such people will run the government then it isn’t a good message for democracy.”
Sasikala is not a member of the legislature, something the country’s Constitution requires her to remedy within six months.
While Sasikala has neither been an elected member of the Tamil Nadu Assembly nor held any official post in the government, she was considered to be the closest aide of Jayalalithaa. She had a considerable say in appointments and in the selection of candidates.
What her hold is at the grassroots level of the party and in politics remains to be seen.
Jayalalithaa was introduced to Sasikala – a former video store owner – in the 1980s and over the years, she became a permanent presence in the actor-turned-politician’s her life and home.
The former chief minister described Sasikala as the “sister I never had.”
Following Jayalalithaa’s death on December 5, it was the 61-year-old Sasikala who performed her last rites.
On December 31, she formally took over as general secretary of the AIADMK, fuelling speculation that she would, eventually, take charge as Tamil Nadu Chief Minister.