Tamil Nadu Set to Get Its New Leaders From 2 Key Chennai Meetings - watsupptoday.com
Tamil Nadu Set to Get Its New Leaders From 2 Key Chennai Meetings
Posted 28 Dec 2016 12:24 PM

CHENNAI: J Jayalalithaa's death has impelled the emergence of new leadership not only in her party, the AIADMK, but also in arch rival DMK, as a new year begins. Both parties are prepping for meetings of their decision-making bodies, the general councils, in the next one week - the AIADMK to find a successor to Ms Jayalalithaa, the DMK to likely elevate MK Stalin, the son of party chief M Karunanidhi, as working president.

Mr Karunanidhi, 92, was discharged from hospital earlier this month, and party leaders hope he will be well enough to attend the general council meeting of the DMK on January 4 and appoint his son as working president. Tamil Nadu's main opposition party sees an opportunity to consolidate its position in the state with the AIADMK left rudderless by the death of its unchallenged leader, Ms Jayalalithaa.

In assembly elections earlier this year, Ms Jayalalithaa had led her party to win a second consecutive term in Tamil Nadu, which had for years handed power to the two parties alternately. But the margin of her win over the DMK was narrower than the last time.

By functionally handing Mr Stalin, 63, the party's reins, the DMK reckons it will provide Tamil Nadu with the best alternative. Leaders also believe it will galvanise party cadres.

The AIADMK would not like to cede hard-won ground and needs to fill the gap left by the death of "Amma" or mother as Jayalalithaa was known to her millions of supporters. Senior party leaders have requested Ms Jayalalithaa's long-time companion Sasikala Natarajan to take over as general secretary. They call her "Chinamma" or little mother.

Ms Natarajan is yet to say yes, and is said to be waiting for consensus in the party over her candidacy. Her detractors in the party, largely silent in their disapproval, have pointed out that Ms Natarajan's posters have been defaced across the state, which signals some protest. Ms Natarajan's supporters dismiss this as the "mischief of opposition parties."

The AIADMK's general secretary always served as chief minister when the party has been in power - which was a given with Ms Jayalalithaa holding both posts. Now, however, the ruling party has to decide whether O Panneerselvam, sworn in as chief minister hours after Ms Jayalalthaa's death, will continue in the post even if Ms Natarajan takes over as party general secretary. Sasikala Natarajan was kept away from party and government functioning by Ms Jayalalithaa while she was alive, but has played a pivotal role in political developments since her death.

Chief Minister Panneerselvam or OPS as he is called has not commented on the developments so far. Sources said OPS wants to serve out his term and the BJP, which rules at the centre, too has openly said it backs the man elected by the AIADMK's legislators as chief minister.

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