Amid the sea of VVIPs and commoners gathered at the Rajaji Hall to pay homage to J Jayalalithaa, one person who stood out was Sasikala Natarajan, the former Chief Minister’s ‘Woman Friday’. Not only did she stand beside the coffin all through and connect with dignitaries, she also participated in the ceremony, offering final rites, underscoring her importance in the scheme of things.
According to well placed sources, it is only a matter of time before Sasikala takes up the leadership of the party as its general secretary. It is learnt that an understanding to this effect was reached with O Panneerselvam at a late-night meeting on Monday, which led to his installation as Chief Minister. Since Sasikala was a trusted member of the former CM’s home for several years, with Jayalalithaa even describing her as a sister, AIADMK leaders see the passing of baton to her as the natural next step.
It is also understood that the central BJP leadership is keenly watching the situation. For, it does not want instability in a State that has geopolitical significance. Another powerful optic came in the form of PM Modi lightly tapping Sasikala’s head while offering condolences to her. The presence of Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao, a BJP veteran, and other important BJP leaders right through the day pointed to the indirect role played by the party to ensure a smooth transition in AIADMK.