The AIADMK leadership is pushing the 'Sasikala for leader' narrative in parts.

Chinnamma Saga Act 2 Sasikalas rise to TN CM being scriptedTwitter/ AIADMK
news Politics Monday, December 19, 2016 - 14:03

The last week saw part one of a script carefully written by the ruling AIADMK, being played to perfection.  Leaders and party functionaries flocked to late Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s Poes Garden residence “Veda Nilayam”, appealing with folded hands for Sasikala Natarajan to take over as general secretary of the AIADMK.

The chorus of voices from senior party leaders including Chief Minister O Panneerselvam endorsed Jayalalithaa’s close aide as the natural successor to her legacy. Any whisper of dissent is vociferously suppressed with fingers pointing at the opposition for trying to split the party. 

The PR machinery managing Sasikala’s rise within the party has been on over-drive since the death of five-time Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and AIADMK supremo Jayalalithaa two weeks ago.

Pictures released by the AIADMK show a stoic Sasikala standing at the portico of “Veda Nilayam”, a place where Jayalalithaa stood not long ago, being urged to assume the mantle of general secretary; clad in the party colours, Sasikala holds a new-born baby, whom she names Jayalalithaa; posters hail “Chinnamma” as the new “puratchi thalaivi” (revolutionary leader in Tamil). 

But as The News Minute has written before, the calls will not end with Sasikala to take over as AIADMK general secretary.  And this is part two of the script, Sasikala as the next CM of Tamil Nadu.

Right on cue, RB Udayakumar, Revenue Minister and secretary of Jaya Peravai on Sunday urged, “Chinnamma to take charge and become the chief minister of Tamil Nadu as early as possible.” The logic put forward by Udayakumar is that the head of the party has always become the head of the government. There cannot be two power centres. Trusted lieutenant O Panneerselvam, who has been interim Chief Minister twice before, may very well be a temporary arrangement yet again.   

Udayakumar is known in AIADMK circles as a man close to Sasikala’s nephew Dr Venkatesh and also hails from the Thevar community as Sasikala herself.

Meanwhile, speculation over where Sasikala would contest election from has already begun. While RK Nagar, Jayalalithaa’s constituency is the obvious choice, there’s also buzz within the party that Sasikala could contest from a rural seat. Like P Vetrivel, who gave up his RK Nagar seat for Jayalalithaa in 2015 following her acquittal in the disproportionate assets case, the party is expected to see a number of MLAs queuing up at Poes Garden, offering to give up their seat so Sasikala may sit in the CM’s chair.  

And although much of the theatrics within the AIADMK continues to come in the form of pictures and sound bites, a source in the party says Sasikala may be hesitant to claim her ‘political legacy’ immediately given that the disproportionate assets case looms over her.

“She may wait until the Supreme Court gives the verdict on the DA case. Although Amma has passed away, Sasikala is still a party to the case along with Ilavarasi,” the source said.

Until then, Tamil Nadu will be force-fed pictures of AIADMK cadre and leaders fawning over Sasikala to “lead the party on the path shown by Honourable Amma”.    

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