When the 61-year-old V.K. Sasikala – ‘chinnamma’, as she has anointed herself – is sworn in as the new chief minister of Tamil Nadu this week, she will be the third woman to hold the state’s top political job. But whether she will have a long innings in office, like her mentor, the late J. Jayalalithaa, or a short one like Janaki Ramachandran, will depend upon her ability to ensure the continuing loyalty of her party legislators.
On Sunday afternoon, all 136 MLAs attending the ruling AIADMK party legislature meeting in Chennai lined up to unanimously choose her as chief minister. In the best traditions of authoritarian politics, her name was proposed by none other than the serving – and now outgoing – chief minister, O. Panneerselvam or OPS. But Sasikala’s show of strength amongst AIADMK legislators cannot hide the fact that the party’s rank and file cadres, and the wider public in the state, do not approve of the manner in which the reins of government have been placed in chinnamma’s hands.
Panneerselvam will submit his resignation to governor C. Vidyasagar Rao as soon as the latter returns to Chennai from Mumbai. Read more