Tahlka News Desk
Chennai: AIADMK general secretary V K Sasikala elected as legislature party leader by MLAs at a party meeting on Sunday, paving the way for her to become the third woman chief minister of Tamil Nadu. The swearing ceremony will be held on Thursday.
O Panneerselvam chief minister proposed her name and was seconded by the party MLAs at the party headquarters. "I resign. We elect Chinnamma (Sasikala) unanimously the legislature party leader," Panneerselvam said, setting off applause in the hall. The allies who won on the two leaves symbol, MJK, Kongu Ilaignar Peravai and Mukkaluthur Pulipadai, also endorsed her candidature, though the MLAs were not present.
In all, 134 MLAs signed the resolution, totally backing Sasikala to take over the reins of the government. Hours later, Panneerselam tendered his resignation letter to governor C Vidyasagar Rao and cited personal reasons for his move. "Accept my resignation and relieve the council of ministers appointed by me on December 6," he said in the letter. He thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the governor for extending all support and co-operation during his tenure as CM.
Earlier, Panneerselvam and other ministers met Sasikala at the Poes Garden residence of the late chief minister J Jayalalithaa, where Sasikala continues to live. The ostensible purpose of the meeting was to discuss the government's activities, issues pertaining to various constituencies and the manner in which Jayalalithaa's birth anniversary on February 24 is to be celebrated. Minutes later, the MLAs met at the party headquarters and elected her. Sasikala, who dropped in, was greeted with the chorus of "Chinnamma Vazhga" (Long live Chinnamma).
The close confidante of Jayalalithaa made her way to the first floor and greeted the MLAs. Flanked by Panneerselvam, Edappadi K Palaniswami and party presidium chairman E Madhusoodanan, Sasikala took centre stage and said: "I accept your decision that one person alone should be the general secretary of the party and chief minister of Tamil Nadu." She went on to add, "I would realise the dreams of Amma. This government will work for the people in the way shown by Amma."
In her four-minute speech, Sasikala expressed her gratitude to the elected representatives and party workers for "shattering the dreams of rivals who wanted to see the party split."
She praised Panneerselvam who, she said, stood loyal whenever the party faced tough times and when there were difficulties in Jayalalithaa con tinuing as CM. She said it was he who first persuaded her to take over the reins of the party and government.