Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam stepped down on Sunday, clearing decks for Sasikala Natarajan - the longtime companion of J Jayalalithaa, who became the party chief after her death -- to take over the reins of power in the state. At an internal meeting this afternoon, Ms. Natarajan was elected the chief of AIADMK's legislature party, fulfilling the vociferous demands of a section of the party who contended that it was unwise to for the party and government to have different power centres in the state.
After the meeting, Ms Natarjan -- who had promised to follow in the footsteps of Jayalalithaa - appeared in front of supporters in a dark green sari, a colour greatly favoured by Jayalalithaa. The former Chief Minister had even worn the colour after the sweeping victory of the AIADMK in the last assembly elections.
Ms. Natarajan, 61, is not an elected member of the assembly and had never held any post in the party. Chinamma (mother's younger sister) as she is fondly called by supporters had taken charge of the party after clamour from the partymen.
There were speculations that Ms Natarajan would take over as chief minister by the end of January, but the massive protests across the state over demanding the removal of a ban on Jallikattu -- the bull taming sport organised during the harvest festival of Pongal - had delayed it, sources had said.