AIADMK general secretary V K Sasikala’s decision to meet party functionaries at the AIADMK headquarters from January 4 to 9 has set off speculation about her next course of action.
While senior leaders say she is unlikely to move in a hurry, a section of second and third-level leaders in the party are competing with each other to prove their loyalty.
On Monday, Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker M Thambidurai, who is largely based in Delhi with little influence, urged Sasikala to take over the reins of the government. He argued that dual leadership may not be good for the party and the government.
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A senior leader said that they demand that she become the Chief Minister as she is the only leader after late Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa.
“It is neither because (Chief Minister) O Panneerselvam is ineffective, nor because he is a threat to the party chief,” the leader said. “… it is crucial that power be divided on caste lines. Two top positions (party chief and CM) represented by Thevars is a matter of concern ahead of the local body elections and by-election coming up in May-June.”
Another senior leader said the leadership would welcome Sasikala even if she were to assume the CM’s post. “She lived with Amma for 30 years and if she wants to become the CM in 30 days, nobody will object, not even Panneerselvam. But nobody knows how the party cadres and people will take it,” he said. “Ideally she should wait till the assets case verdict is out. Also, she needs to travel and meet local leaders and cadres in the districts before asserting her power for the top post.”
But some senior leaders in the AIADMK dismissed reports about her plans to take over as CM. “This is all imagination,” said a leader in Chennai. “Party leaders are raising this demand out of admiration for Chinnamma. Sometimes is may also be mere courtesy to gain confidence. It is her call to wait or not to wait.”