Nearly a hundred women stood behind the rusted yellow barricade at the AIADMK office at 2.30pm. Several of them had been waiting in the city's scorching heat for over 4 hours to know why they had been summoned.
One of the male supporters standing near the gate suddenly raised his hands reverently and shouted “Chinamma” at the crowd, waiting eagerly for a loud chorus. But what followed instead was a tense silence.
This was the mood amongst those waiting at the party office in Royapettah, 40 minutes before the now leader of the legislature party, VK Sasikala, arrived at the party headquarters.
The News Minute spoke to some AIADMK supporters as they shuffled out of the building talking amongst themselves in whispers. Many of them held a plastic version of the party symbol, but bearing only the image of former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on the front.
"We wouldn't have come if we had known that the party will take a decision like this," said one angry woman who had come from Anna Nagar. Her statement got a round of vigorous nods of assent from the 15 women surrounding her.
The 58-year-old, who did not want to divulge her name, said, "I almost got a heart attack after we were informed. What administrative experience does she have? Shadowing a Chief Minister cannot make her one. We prefer Panneerselvam. He knows how to run a state."
About 50 metres away, a group of young men raised pro-Sasikala slogans. In their midst was VS Manikandan, who travelled from Palani to Chennai to witness this announcement.
"Sasikala madam has been with Amma for 3 decades. She knows all her ideals and she will only do good for Tamil Nadu," he claimed. This group however, is isolated in its celebratory cheering outside the party headquarters.
With a saree pulled over her head to provide temporary relief from the heat, 43-year-old Selvi made it clear that the person in power doesn't matter. "What really matters is whether she will work for the poor. I come from west Anna Nagar where those working in ration shops are selling food meant for the poor in the black market. Can she stop this? This began after Amma died. Can Panneerselvam end this? If neither of them can, how does this announcement matter?"
The 43-year-old's statement was punctuated by applause from women around her. Party supporters may be divided over Sasikala's elevation, but they are united in the demand for the administration now to be “as efficient as it was under Amma”.