Jayalalithaa's long time aide Sasikala has emerged as the likely candidate to lead the AIADMK after most of the senior leaders, including Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, have backed her for the post of become party general secretary.
"There is no second opinion on the issue. If anyone has second thoughts, they are not true AIADMK workers," Panneerselvam said yesterday.
He said Sasikala shared Jayalalithaa's grief, she lived with her as her trusted aide and was like a sister. She imbibed the thoughts and working style of Jayalalithaa by being with her for over 30 years. She lived like Jayalalithaa's shadow "till Amma's death," he said.
"Like Amma, Chinnamma (as Sasikala is referred to by party workers) knows each and every party worker. To ensure continuance of the party's functioning with the same level of discipline one can find in the army, brought about by Amma, the only way out in the present situation is for Chinnamma to become the general secretary and lead the party," Jaya Plus Tamil TV channel reported him as saying.
"To fill the void in the party created by the demise of Amma, AIADMK senior party leaders and ministers have urged Chinnamma to take on the mantle of general secretary," he said.
Panneerselvam, also the party Treasurer, praised Sasikala for steadfastly supporting Jayalalithaa till the end. He condemned criticism against Sasikala from certain quarters and said "rumours will not succeed."
Earlier, a plea urging her to step into the shoes of Jayalalithaa was made by a delegation of leaders including AIADMK presidium chairman E Madhusudanan and Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker Thambidurai when they called on Sasikala at the Poes Garden residence of the late chief minister.
A host of state ministers, including Dindigul C Srinivasan and Electricity Minister P Thangamani expressed similar sentiments in interviews to the channel.
The leaders who called on Sasikala included former Ministers K A Sengottaiyan, B Valarmathi, Gokula Indira, former Chennai Mayor Saidai Duraisamy, party spokesperson C R Saraswathy and senior leader A Tamil Magan Hussain.
Sasikala, 60, has been a close aide of Jayalalithaa for three decades and has always been seen as a power centre in the party.
AIADMK Organisational Secretary C Ponnaiyan said there was nothing wrong in the Chief Minister and key party leaders consulting her. He had also asserted that the General Secretary would be elected soon and party remained united.
A plea urging her to step into the shoes of Jayalalithaa was made by a delegation of leaders including AIADMK presidium chairman E Madhusudanan and Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker Thambidurai when they called on Sasikala at the Poes Garden yesterday.
"After Amma it is only Chinnamma. Chinnamma follows Amma's footsteps," said Thambidurai, whose name was doing the round for the post, adding that he told Sasikala that the party and welfare of the people was in her hands.
"We told her that we are with you," he said. "I urged her to come forward to take up responsibility of being party General Secretary and guide us," he told Jaya Plus Tamil TV channel.
"This is a people's party. It was Puratchi Thalaivi Amma who functioned understanding the people's pulse. Chinnamma follows Amma's footsteps. Hence, leaving no scope for a void, Chinnamma should immediately assume the position of party general secretary," he said, adding he was confident that she would accept the request.
He said the party is of the "unanimous" opinion that it was Sasikala who should lead the party.
Thambidurai asserted that there are no two opinions in this regard in the party. All party workers, district secretaries, MPs, MLAs and all other functionaries were one on the issue.
Jaya Plus Television Channel, a pro-AIADMK Tamil News channel, aired the opinions of several AIADMK functionaries and state ministers, who lent support for Sasikala and urged her to assume the top party position soon.
(With PTI inputs)