Sasikala To Replace OPS As CM

Chennai: It is Chinnamma from now on. Sasikala Natarajan, an assistant to former chief minister Jayalalithaa, is all set to take over the reins of Tamil Nadu government from incumbent chief minister O Panneerselvam anytime now. Nicknamed Chinnamma after Amma, as Jayalalithaa was fondly called, Sasikala had become General Secretary of the ruling AIADMK after the demise of the party supremo.

The AIADMK legislature party had an unscheduled meeting on Sunday here to elect Sasikala as the leader in place of Chief Minister O Panneerselvam who has resigned from the post. It was Panneerselvam who proposed the name of Sasikala for the post of AIADMKLP leader. Sasikala said Panneerselvam has been insisting that she should take over as CM. Speaking after getting elected as the leader of the legislative party, Chinnamma said she would follow the policies and principles laid down by Jayalalithaa.

Sasikala’s return to the limelight, after Jayalalithaa allowed her to return to Poes Garden, has established her as the natural successor. In contrast to her boss, who was given to stern attitude and strong words, Sasikala speaks little. She was a shadow of her leader before whom the party leaders were genuflecting. She knew all the secrets of Amma. Sasikala observed from close quarters how Jayalalithaa kept the party and the government under her absolute control. Though Jayalalithaa had never meant Sasikala to be her political heir, there was none else who enjoyed the proximity of the leader. Jayalalithaa died on 5 December 2016, exactly 60 days ago. Since then, her close personal assistant was never seen smiling. Sasikala was in tears for almost a month. Even when she took over as party General Secretary, she maintained the same demeanour and spoke few words. But her mind had been vigorously working fine tuning the strategy to take the administration under her control. 

There were rumours that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was not in favour of elevating Sasikala to the post of a chief minister and his blessings were with Panneerselvam. But OPS knew his limitations. He is another politician in TN who was never seen with a smile on his face. That was a peculiar position in which a hint of a smile on the face would be construed as disloyalty. All the four times he had become chief minister were characterised by a background in which his supreme leader was either caught in legal tangle or health issues. The last time he took the oath was in the wake of Jayalalithaa’s death. He took the oath in midnight even before announcing the death of the chief minister. All these were not happy occasions. Moreover they were situations where a smile would be inappropriate. Even now Panneerselvam is aware that he is not a natural leader with popular support. He can be only a number two person obediently following the leader. He urged Sasikala to take over the mantle and relieve him of the burden. He can perhaps enjoy a smile after Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao administers the oath to Sasikala Natarajan on Tuesday.

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