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'Chinnamma' Sasikala Could be Sworn in as Tamil Nadu CM on Monday

VK Sasikala, aide of late J Jayalaithaa, could take over as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu next week, top AIADMK leaders told CNN-News18.

Poornima Murali | CNN-News18

Updated:February 4, 2017, 8:05 PM IST

Chennai: VK Sasikala, aide of late J Jayalaithaa, could take over as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu next week, top AIADMK leaders told CNN-News18.

AIADMK spokesperson CR Saraswathi confirmed the developments saying a decision with regard to the elevation of Sasikala would be taken on Sunday at a meeting of party MLAs in Chennai.

"Chinnamma (Sasikala) could take over as the Chief Minister next week. You see, Panneerselvam has been continuing as CM only on Chinnamma’s advice,” a minister holding a key portfolio in the state government told CNN-News18 on condition of anonymity.

In a related development, three key bureaucrats who had worked closely with Jayalalithaa, including her all-powerful chief secretary Sheila Balakrishnan, were removed from their posts in the office of Chief Minister O Pannerselvam on Friday night.

Party sources said the surprise move to remove Sheila Balakrishnan, KN Vekataramanan and CM’s personal secretary Ramalingam had Sasikala’s stamp all over it.

Friday also saw Sasikala reinstating AIADMK leaders who had been sidelined by Jayalalithaa earlier to key party positions. Former minister KA Sengottaiyan and former mayor Saidai S Duraisamy are now AIADMK organisation secretaries.

ALSO READ: Sasikala Natarajan's Ascent from a Housewife to AIADMK Chief

Political analysts see this is as an attempt to quash dissidents within the party. She has also removed V Alexander as AIADMK's MGR Youth Wing secretary.

“By effecting these sudden changes in both top bureaucracy and the party organisation, Sasikala is building up her own team for a smooth tenure as CM,” a political analyst told CNN-News18 on condition of anonymity.

Speculation was rife that Sasikala’s elevation was only a question of when and not if, but the sudden public protests over the ban on bull-taming sport Jallikattu seem to have forced the speed of events.

Panneerselvam was seen as having an upper hand in the swift manner in which he persuaded New Delhi to allow the state to bring in an ordinance that effectively lifted the ban on the sport seen by its supporters as an essential part of Tamil culture.

ALSO READ: It's Stalin vs Sasikala. Or Thalapathy vs Chinnamma, as Fans Would have it

Sasikala maintained her silence throughout the week when hundreds of thousands had stormed into Chennai’s Marina Beach demanding a lifting of the ban. However, political observers note that she was quick to claim credit for Panneerselvam’s trip to Delhi and the Centre’s green light for the Ordinance. “I made the AIADMK government fight for this cause (Jallikattu). I sent AIADMK MPs to meet the Prime Minister and Home Minister in person to request them (Centre) to permit the conduct of Jallikattu in the state. I asked the Chief Minister to meet the Prime Minister to talk about the issue,” she said in a statement issued soon after the CM landed back.

As things stand in AIADMK, Sasikala controls the party organisation with Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker M Thambidurai openly voicing his support for Sasikala to become the Chief Minister, suggesting it is better if the party leadership and government is in the hands of the same person.

Earlier, there were indications that Sasikala would wait until the final court verdict on the disproportionate assets case in which she along with the late CM had been implicated.

| Edited by: Nitya Thirumalai
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