Former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa’s close aide Sasikala Natarajan took formal charge as the general secretary of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam on Saturday. She was appointed to the post on Thursday after the party came to the decision at its first general body meeting in Chennai since Jayalalithaa’s death on December 5.
“This government is the people’s government. We will follow the path shown by our Amma [Jayalalithaa],” Natarajan said at the event. “Amma is not with us now, but our party will rule here for the next 100 years.”
AIADMK leaders and cadres gathered at the party headquarters in Chennai’s Royapettah area to show their support. Natarajan paid tributes at the statue of party founder MG Ramachandran. She had visited both MGR and Jayalalithaa’s memorials near Marina Beach on Friday.
At the party general body meeting on Friday, O Panneerselvam, who took up the post of chief minister after Jayalalithaa died, had said, “In tune with party rules, honourable Chinnamma [Natarajan] is appointed AIADMK general secretary, and a resolution to this effect has been adopted unanimously by the general council.” Natarajan, who lives in Jayalalithaa’s Poes Garden home, had not attended the meeting.
AIADMK had announced on December 15 that it would appoint Natarajan to the top post. Party spokesperson Ponnaiyan had said, “It is the desire of the entire party. Sasikala has functioned as the conscience of Amma [Jayalalithaa].”
Natarajan takes charge as the party chief – a post that was held by Jayalalithaa – as sacked AIADMK MP Sasikala Pushpa has been seeking to contest for the post. She had moved the Madras High Court on December 16, urging the judiciary to restrain the AIADMK general council from selecting Natarajan for the position. Pushpa’s husband and lawyer Lingeswara Thilagan was arrested on Thursday, a day after he and a few others were attacked allegedly by AIADMK workers outside the party headquarters in Chennai.