Chennai: J Jayalalithaa was today elected by AIADMK lawmakers to take over as chief minister of Tamil Nadu at a party meeting in Chennai this morning. The 67-year-old leader, who was not present at the meeting, is likely to take oath tomorrow.
144 of 150 party lawmakers attended the meeting at the AIADMK headquarters where five rebel MLAs from actor-politician Vijayakanth’s DMDK were also present. Current chief minister O Panneerselvam headed straight to Ms Jayalalithaa’s Poes Garden residence after the meeting. He is expected to resign today.
Nearly eight months ago, Ms Jayalalithaa was convicted in a corruption case and forced to step down in the midst of her third term as the state’s top leader.
Ms Jayalalithaa’s return as the head of the government was enabled by her acquittal earlier this month in the same case, and a party that has expressed its unwavering devotion to her in unabashed shows of sycophancy.
Ms Jayalalithaa was found not guilty of illicitly amassing wealth adding up to nearly Rs. 50 crore by the Karnataka High Court. She must win a state assembly seat within six months of taking over as Chief Minister.
The leader, who is known as “Amma” or “mother” will appear in public today for the first time after her acquittal to garland statues of AIADMK leaders including founder MG Ramachandran.
In a statement on Monday that broadly hinted at her plans, Ms Jayalalithaa had told party workers that “whatever our cadres wish will happen soon.”
When her replacement O Panneerselvam took over as Chief Minister, other AIADMK leaders and he wept through the swearing-in ceremony; when she was jailed, Ms Jayalalithaa’s enraged supporters set buses on fire; she has said more than 200 people killed themselves to protest against her incarceration.