Chennai: VK Sasikala, aide of the late J Jayalalithaa, was elected the AIADMK’s Legislature Party leader on Sunday, paving the way for her elevation as Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, replacing O Panneerselvam.
It was Panneerselvam who announced that Sasikala, the party general secretary, was unanimously elected the legislature party leader at a meeting of party MLAs. Minutes later, he resigned as the state’s Chief Minister.
Sasikala, who has never held public office, has six months’ time from the date of her swearing-in to enter the Assembly as an elected MLA.
The move to elevate Sasikala as the Chief Minister is a high-risk gamble by the AIADMK as the party chief has a corruption case pending against her in the Supreme Court.
She was convicted in a disproportionate assets case by a Karnataka court, but was subsequently acquitted by the state’s High Court. An appeal against the acquittal is pending in the apex court, which had reserved judgment in the case in June last year.
If convicted, Sasikala will not only have to vacate the CM’s chair, like Jayalalithaa had to in September 2014, but she will also be barred from electoral politics.
The allegation against Sasikala is that she collaborated, colluded and conspired with J Jayalalithaa to allegedly amass wealth, both moveable and immovable, in Tamil Nadu as well as abroad.