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Political novice to become Tamil Nadu CM

TML nAIDO CMCHENNAI: A former video cassette seller with close ties to Tamil Nadu’s late leader will become the next chief minister of the Indian state, capping a remarkable rise for the political novice.

The ruling party in the southern state announced on Sunday that VK Sasikala would become the next leader following the resignation of the acting chief minister.

Her rise to the top had been rumoured since December, when beloved leader Jayalalithaa Jayaram died at the age of 68, plunging the state into political uncertainty.

Sasikala — a close confidante of Jayalalithaa but with no previous record of public office — was soon afterwards elevated to head the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) party, paving the way to the top job.

O Panneerselvam, who had been filling in as chief minister since October when former film star Jayalalithaa was hospitalised, has stepped down.

Although Sasikala had never held any official position in the AIADMK or the state government before her election, she has long been known as “Chinnamma” (aunt) to the party because of her friendship with Jayalalithaa.

The two met in the 1980s when Sasikala was running a video parlour and Jayalalithaa was a budding politician. It marked the beginning of a decades-long friendship dogged by corruption scandals and intermittent spells of bad blood.

The death of the hugely popular Jayalalithaa, a three-time chief minister, on Dec 5 sparked a mass outpouring of grief across Tamil Nadu, with huge crowds lining the streets to pay tribute to her. -AFP


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