AIADMK leaders want Chinamma to succeed Amma as party general secretary, but it is not a done deal yet.
Senior party members of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam have met V K Sasikala, a close aide of the late chief minister and former AIADMK general secretary J Jayalalithaa, and have requested her to take charge of the party as general secretary.
She has not replied yet to the request.
Sasikala, who is known as Chinnamma in party circles, has been rumoured to be taking over the leadership after Jayalalithaa's death, though the party has not made its stand known.
Senior party functionaries, including AIADMK Presidium Chairman E Madhusudhanan and Ministers Valarmathi and Sengottaiyan, met Sasikala in Poes Garden, Jayalalithaa's home, with the request.
"Yes, we have met Chinnamma today to request her to take over as the leader of the AIADMK. She has been with Amma during her difficult times and she knows what Amma wanted in the party," said C R Saraswathy, party spokesperson.
"We expect Chinnamma to accept our request," she added.
'Senior functionaries of the AIADMK urge Thirumathi Sasikala to lead the party on the path shown by Puratchi Thalaivi (revolutionary leader) Amma,' said the AIADMK's official Twitter account.
The party members also added that this would bring an end to the rumours about the new general secretary of the party.
Sasikala has always been seen as a shadow of Jayalalithaa at major functions. However, the relationship strained in 2011, when Jayalalithaa suddenly expelled her from her home, along with her relatives, and suspended her from the party.
The reason for the action was not known, though rumours are that Jayalalithaa had an impression that Sasikala was involving herself in political and administrative matters along with her family.
She was admitted back to the party and to Veda Nilayam -- Jayalalithaa's Poes Garden home -- after she openly apologised.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam was not present in the team which visited Sasikala, according to sources.
Sasikala, a former video shop owner, has been close to Jayalalithaa for several years now and has been living in Veda Nilayam.
She was also accused, along with Jayalalithaa, in the alleged disproportionate assets case and was sentenced by a special court in Bengaluru. She also ran a few companies in partnership with Jayalalithaa, the investigators alleged.
Earlier on Saturday, party spokesperson C Ponnayan said there was no rift in the party over the general secretary's post. "We are united and we are not split over the post of general secretary," he said.
The names floating around for the position are of Sasikala, Sengottaiyan and M Thambidurai, the Lok Sabha deputy speaker.
Senior ministers and party members have spent considerable time at Poes Garden, where Sasikala lives, and held discussions.
Queried about the discussions, Ponnayan said Sasikala was an important person in the party and she had been with Jayalalithaa for many years.
On ministers spending considerable time at Poes Garden, he said, "Amma's picture has kept in the house and people keep going to pay their respects."
IMAGE: Prime Minister Narendra Modi consoles Sasikala at Rajaji Hall, Chennai, where Jayalalithaa's body was kept for public viewing on December 6, 2016. Looking on is Natarajan, Sasikala's husband who had been turned out by Jayalalithaa during her lifetime. Photograph: ANI