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Sasikala likely to be elected as AIADMK General Secretary today

V K Sasikala, former chief minister J Jayalalithaa’s aide, has not revealed her cards yet but she is expected to be elected the AIADMK General Secretary on December 29 as thousands of party executives, with their supporters, flooded Chennai today. Sasikala herself is expected to stay away while the party executive committee and general council will formally elect her as the leader. She apparently wants to convey the impression of a reluctant politician — that she doesn’t want any post but it is the party that has thrust the post on her.

All the district units of the ruling party had already held meetings to adopt a resolution, urging her to take over the leadership. Her election on December is expected to be a mere formality. Posters hailing the Chinna Amma (Small Mother) have sprung up all over Chennai to greet Sasikala.In the style of the DMK (party banners would have its president M Karunanidhi displayed prominently with its leaders Annadurai and Periyar in the background), and that of the Jayalalithaa-led AIADMK until recently (Jaya’s face would be the focus with MGR in the background), AIADMK banners now display Sasikala in the foreground with Jaya in the background.

Whatever dissent there was in the party over the elevation of Sasikala to the post held by Jaya has been put down with a firm hand by the party leadership.

Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, ever the loyalist, has been co-ordinating the arrangements for the meet on Dec 29, although the event would mark the first decisive step towards Sasikala acquiring a strangle-hold over the party and the government. Panneerselvam’s days as chief minister are clearly numbered.

For Sasikala, it has been a long and patient wait. She was merely made an executive committee member and was even removed from the party as Jayalalithaa suspected the loyalty of Sasikala’s relatives. She was brought back into the Poes Garden residence of Jayalalithaa and into the party in 2012.

It is this gap that was questioned by some dissidents in the party on the ground that one has to be a member continuously for at least five years to qualify for a post. Since Sasi has not completed five years of continuous membership, the legal impediment was raised by a few party personnel. However, this was nipped in the bud by party seniors who pointed out that the party executive could adopt a resolution to waive this clause and to ratify the election of Sasi. Therefore, the executive meeting will also be held in addition to

the general council to enable the smooth election of Sasi on Dec 29.

Sasikala will enter the party headquarters only after being elected its supremo so that she will have a triumphant and powerful entry, a party senior said.

The BJP’s plan to marginalise Sasikala had not worked, an AIADMK source said, adding that the party with 49 MPs could not be threatened with a mere raid on the chief secretary’s office and residence. The BJP realises that Sasikala would not be as pliable as Panneerselvam. Governor Vidyasagar Rao even asked vice chancellors of universities to explain why they prostrated at Sasi’s feet a few days ago at the Poes Garden. It remains to be seen if the Centre would tighten the screws on Sasi and members of her family or will the BJP make a strategic retreat and try and get cosy with her, in view of the changed situation. It appears that for the time being, it is the BJP that will blink first.