Group of AIADMK leaders urge Sasikala to take charge

Chennai, Dec 10 (IANS) Hours after Tamil Nadu’s ruling AIADMK said there is no rift or fight within the party for the powerful post of General Secretary, a group of party officials requested late leader Jayalalithaa’s confidante V.K. Sasikala to take charge of the party.

“We had requested Sasikala to take charge of the party. Party leaders like E.Madhusudhanan, party Presidium Chairman, Valarmathi, K.A.Sengottaiyan, Saidai Duraisamy, and I met Sasikala and made the request,” party spokesperson C.R.Saraswathi told IANS.

They met Sasikala at the Poes Garden residence of Chief Minister and General Secretary J.Jayalalithaa who died here on Monday due to cardiac arrest.

This is the first time since the death of Jayalalithaa, party officials have openly gone and requested Sasikala to take charge.

“Senior functionaries of AIADMK urge Thirumathi Sasikala to lead the party on the path shown by Puratchi Thalaivi Amma,” read a tweet in the AIADMK’s account.

According to party officials, Sasikala did not comment on the requests made.

Meanwhile a senior party official told IANS that though there can be others who may nurture the ambition of becoming the General Secretary, there will not be any contest or show down.

“The matter would be amicable settled and there will not be any contest,” he added.

When Jayalalithaa was alive, she held both the posts of Chief Minister and party General Secretary.

But after her death there is a possibility of two power centres emerging and in the long run, the person who controls the party will be the most powerful.

AIADMK party men said Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam will have the support of the grass root cadres whereas party functionaries at the district level might support Sasikala.

Supporters of Sasikala point out that she was involved in the party affairs assisting Jayalalithaa – and had been with her during the latter’s tough times.

According to AIADMK officials, a good number of MLAs are loyal to Sasikala as she had a say in the selection of candidates in the elections and also in appointing others in party posts.

On the negative side, the decision on the disproportionate assets case is yet to be delivered by the Supreme Court and if it goes against her, then there will be a major setback for the party.

Further with Panneerselvam belonging to Thevar caste (Sasikala is also from Thevar caste) holding the Chief Minister post, other dominant castes in the party may lay their claim for the party post.

The other dominant caste groups in the AIADMK are Goundar, Vanniyar, Nadar and Dalits.

According to a political analyst, Jayalalithaa, being an Iyengar and not belonging to any of the dominant castes and also a great vote catcher, was the binding factor that held the party together all these years.

Post Jayalalithaa, the party does not seem to have a charismatic leader who can fetch votes and also be a glue.

Agreeing, an AIADMK party official said the new person will have to ride on the popularity of Jayalalithaa till such time he/she is able to establish himself/herself as a leader.

In the morning AIADMK spokesperson C.Ponnaiyan told reporters the party would soon elect a person whom the souls of party founder M.G. Ramachandran (MGR) or the late Jayalalithaa would like to lead the AIADMK.

“With over 1.5 crore members, AIADMK is like a banyan tree. The party is united and cohesive. There is no infighting in the party for any post,” Ponnaiyan said.

He said there was no void in the party and there was a second line of command.