No rift in AIADMK party and new chief soon, say’s Ponnaiyan

Chennai,Dec10: The AIADMK would have a new general secretary soon, party spokesperson C Ponnaiyan said on Saturday, adding that the choice would be unanimous.

Denying a rift within the AIADMK over the succession plan following chief minister J Jayalalithaa’s death, Ponnaiyan said, “The party remained united under Amma and will follow the same in coming days. We’ll unanimously choose a candidate for the party,” he said.

 Ponnaiyan added that the leadership question in the party may be settled without any formal election. “I think there will not be any election for this post,” he said.

Asked whether late leader Jayalalithaa, who passed away on the night of December 5, had left any will, Ponnaiyan only said, “There is no answer to this question.”

The political circuit has been rife with speculation that Jayalalithaa’s close aide Sasikala Natarajan, who has not held any government or party position till date, may formally take over the party reins.

On Friday, Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, who took oath hours after Jayalalithaa’s death, visited Poes Garden, the late leader’s palatial residence, to hold discussions with Sasikala.

Some AIADMK cadre are said to be unhappy with the re-emergence of Sasikala, who has a disproportionate assets case pending against her, and her family members following Jayalalithaa’s demise. Some have even questioned the security cover given to Sasikala when she visited the house of Cho Ramaswamy to pay her last respects to the actor-turned-journalist.

Sasikala, called Chinnamma, was running a video cassette shop when she befriended Jayalalithaa in early 1980s. She has been a shadow of the AIADMK leader ever since but never held any official post within the party or the state government. In 2011, Jayalalithaa expelled Sasikala from Poes Garden, but the two reunited months later when Sasikala distanced herself from her family to prove loyalty towards Jayalalithaa.