Pledging to take Jayalalithaa's legacy forward, AIADMK general secretary VK Sasikala asserted that nobody other than party founder MG Ramachandran, Dravidian ideologue CN Annadurai and 'Amma' will be given prominence in the party.
Sasikala was unanimously chosen to lead the AIADMK at a party meeting on Thursday.
In her first formal address to functionaries after formally taking charge as party chief on Saturday, she said AIADMK will continue to be run in the same way as it was during Jayalalithaa's time, when it was administered with a level of "discipline as seen in the Army".
It will continue to follow in the footsteps of these great leaders who looked beyond caste and religion, she said. Her assertion comes against the backdrop of some murmur of protests against her taking over the post.
Heaping encomiums on Jayalalithaa, she said, "Let us follow our Amma's political lessons and her footsteps like Vedas. This movement (AIADMK) which was shaped up by Amma is a people's movement, this is people's government, our journey will be in the path laid by Amma."
She said the "yardstick" followed by Jayalalithaa for elevation of cadres in the party organisation will continue to be the same and "we will not diverge even an iota from it".
Hailing Jayalalithaa for her courage, she said the late leader had stormed the male bastion of politics that has given confidence to women. "Today as a woman, if I have come forward to lead the party, a very important reason for it is the faith that crores of brothers and sisters will support me," she said.
She said, "No one can fill her (Jayalalithaa) vacuum, even in another thousand years. I carry Amma in my soul. We have assembled here to guard the confidence of Amma that it will be the AIADMK which will rule the state for 100 more years. She was everything for me and for us all."
Thanking party leaders for unanimously naming her as party general secretary, Sasikala said she humbly accepted it out of a sense of duty. For the first time, she publicly spoke on the death of Jayalalithaa amid demands for a probe by the opposition DMK.
Sasikala said she had firmly believed that the former AIADMK chief would recover. "Although Amma's health improved, that facilitated her shift from critical care unit to a private room, she had unfortunately passed away. It was not thought of even in my dream and it was like a thunderbolt falling on one's head (when she died)," Sasikala said, adding her only wish had been Jayalalithaa's well-being.
(Feature image source: PTI)