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Sasikala set to be Tamil du CM, DMK shocked

Cheni, Feb 5: Tamil du is set to get its third woman Chief Minister. AIADMK MLAs on Sunday elected General Secretary V.K. Sasikala as their legislature leader, two months after her mentor J. Jayalalithaa died. The legislators unimously chose Sasikala, who is not a member of the assembly, for the post. And she lost no time in saying that outgoing Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam himself wanted her to head the government.

Addressing the legislators, the 59-year old Sasikala, a long-time confidante of Jayalalithaa, said Panneerselvam had also insisted earlier that she become the party head too.

Panneerselvam, who had earlier been acting Chief Minister twice, sent his resigtion to Sasikala, party sources said.

The main opposition DMK said it was “shocked” that the AIADMK had chosen an  administratively inexperienced Sasikala as the Chief Minister of Tamil du, one of India’s biggest states.

“People didn’t vote for Sasikala,” DMK Working President M.K. Stalin said. The    DMK said Sunday was a “black day” for Tamil du.

Sasikala said: “Since everyone stressed that one person should hold both the posts – Chief Minister and General Secretary of the party – I agreed.”

According to AIADMK sources, Panneerselvam proposed her me and the other MLAs seconded it to show unimity in the party. Sasikala belongs to the Thevar community, which has a domint say in the AIADMK.

Bharatiya Jata Party’s Tamil du President Tamilisai Soundararajan agreed that electing Sasikala was the AIADMK MLAs’ right but wondered what was the urgency.

Born in 1957 in Thiruthuraipoondi, about 330 km from Cheni, Sasikala was married to M. tarajan, a Tamil du government official. In the 1980s, tarajan urged South Arcot District Collector V.S. Chandralekha to introduce Sasikala to Jayalalithaa so that the then AIADMK Propaganda Secretary would get due publicity. With Jayalalithaa finding Sasikala’s work satisfactory, they became friends. After a while, Sasikala moved into the Poes Garden residence of Jayalalithaa in Cheni.

Sasikala used to accompany Jayalalithaa on her trips, often seated behind the charismatic actor-turned-AIADMK leader. Jayalalithaa publicly called Sasikala a sister not related by blood.

But despite their closeness, Sasikala maintained a low profile publicly although she was actively involved in maging the party affairs.

Their relationship turned sour in 2011 and Jayalalithaa told Sasikala and her family members to leave her residence. But they patched up later, ensuring Sasikala’s return to the AIADMK. (IANS)

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Ankur Kalita