V K Sasikala, who remained Jayalalithaa's shadow in public for nearly three decades and wielded considerable clout behind the scenes, was on Wednesday appointed the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam General Secretary, a decision of the general council made in her absence she immediately accepted.
A meeting of the general council, which is AIADMK's top decision making body, attended by all top leaders including Chief Minister O Panneerselvam took the decision arming her with all the powers to steer the party after Jayalalithaa's demise by adopting a resolution unanimously.
Notwithstanding the reported rumblings in the party, the council took the step capping days of speculation on Jayalalithaa's successor following her death on December 5.
In line with the stipulations set out in the party rules with regard to election to the coveted post, 60-year-old Sasikala, also called 'Chinnamma', will be formally elected as general secretary soon, the resolution said.
Top party leaders led by Panneerselvam called on Sasikala at the Poes Garden residence of Jayalalithaa and apprised her of the party decision.
The chief minister along with other leaders including Lok Sabha Deputy Leader M Thambidurai and Edappadi K Palanisamy handed her a copy of the party resolutions.
An emotional Sasikala, clad in Jayalalithaa's favourite green, later placed the resolutions in front of a portrait of Jayalalithaa and paid floral tributes to the departed leader.
Sasikala was also surrounded by some of her kin.
Amid chants of "Long Live Chinnamma," Sasikala told the leaders and General Council members that she has accepted the decision in deference to the views of cadres and leaders.
The normally reclusive Sasikala, who has never been heard in public, was long considered a power centre in the party with many of her dominant Thevar community members getting tickets and party positions.
She had accompanied Jayalalithaa to prison when they were arrested in a disproportionate assets case and has seen many ups and downs including when was expelled for anti-party activities, only to return in a few months, five years ago.
Party veteran Panruti S Ramachandran said Sasikala has given her concurrence for appointment to the top post.
A total of 14 resolutions, including one that affirmed allegiance to Sasikala, were adopted.
The resolution on Sasikala called on party workers to "remember the guidance of Amma (Jayalalithaa) and take a pledge to work loyally under the stewardship of Chinnamma (younger Amma)."
Hailing her contribution to the party's growth, it vowed to continue striving for the party by "seeing Puratchi Thalaivi Amma in the form of honourable Chinnamma".
Party treasurer and Chief Minister Panneerselvam said: "In tune with party rules, honourable Chinnamma is appointed AIADMK General Secretary and a resolution to this effect has been adopted unanimously by the general council."
"This general council adopts this resolution appointing Chinnamma VK Sasikala as the party general secretary till such time she is (formally) elected to that post in tune with party rule 20, clause 2."
The resolution was moved by party presidium chairman E Madusudanan, Panneersevlam, Edapadi Palanisamy and a host of other leaders and seconded by council members.