Jayalalitha with Sasikala Natarajan
Sasikala Natarajan (L) with late Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa.Twitter

All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) general secretary Sasikala Natarajan was on Sunday (February 5) chosen as the leader of the AIADMK Legislative Party following a meeting of the party MLAs, which essentially means she will be the next chief minister of Tamil Nadu — something a lot of AIADMK leaders had wanted in the first place. 

Also read: Here are the signs that Sasikala Natarajan aka Chinnamma will take over as Tamil Nadu chief minister

As had been predicted, she is replacing current Chief Minister O Panneerselvam. However, Sasikala will now need to be elected to the state Assembly within a finite period of time in order to continue as the chief minister. Sasikala later joined the meeting and said the TN government would "follow the principles of Amma," aka J Jayalalithaa, whose close aide Sasikala was.

AIADMK sources said it was Panneerselvam who had proposed the name of Sasikala — who is also known as Chinamma among supporters — for the role of the AIADMK Legislative Party chief and then the chief minister. The statement gives an outward appearance of harmony within the party, even as Deepa Jayakumar — the niece of the late J Jayalalithaa — said Sasikala's becoming the chief minister would be akin to a military coup. 

What Sasikala needs to do now

Sasikala can for the moment assume the position of the TN chief minister. However, she will have to be elected to the Tamil Nadu Assembly and become a member of it within two-three months if she is to continue in that position. 

Therefore, what will follow is an AIADMK MLA's resigning — preferably from a party pocket-borough — which will necessitate by-election in that constituency. Sasikala will contest the bypoll, and since this is a pocket-borough, can be expected to win from there, become an MLA and continue to be chief minister of Tamil Nadu till the next Assembly election. 

However, she will need to be careful of Deepa Jayakumar, who has claimed she will form her own party and contest elections. If Deepa chooses to contest the same seat as Sasikala — who has not tested electoral waters yet — it could be a problem for the AIADMK, which will have no leader and the TN no chief minister if Sasikala loses the election.