The late Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa had never identified anyone as her political heir. After her untimely demise, Sasikala and Panneerselvam emerged as key aspirants to the coveted top post. With Sasikala behind bars after nominating Edappadi K Palaniswami in her place and OPS scrambling for numbers, ET draws up a list of AIADMK MLAs to watch out for:
‘Ma Foi’ K Pandiarajan
Author of two career guidance books & entrepreneur-turned-twotime MLA. Having defected from Vijaykanth’s DMDK, Pandiarajan grew in strength during Jaya regime. His loyalty to Jayalalithaa and his ability to handle complex state and central issues won him the post of education minister and was appointed as state’s lone representative for the national GST council. After initially choosing to remain with Sasikala, he joined OPS camp.
Senthil Balaji
Three-time MLA, known for his proximity to Sasikala’s extended family. When Jaya had to step down after being sentenced by the Bangalore trial court in the DA case, Balaji’s name was rumoured to be Jaya’s choice as a stand-in CM. Although OPS was eventually given the chance for a third time, Balaji’s name had been established by then as someone who wouldn’t mind giving the top post a shot if the opportunity arises.
Dindigul C Srinivasan
Number 3 minister during Jayalalithaa regime, remains loyal to Sasikala. Served as AIADMK treasurer between 2001 and 2007, was Sasikala’s fi rst choice to replace O Panneerselvam as treasurer after OPS dissented. An AIADMK strongman and a four-time Member of Parliament from Dindigul (1989, 1991, 1998 and 1999). Won assembly polls in 2016 and was made the state environment and forest minister
OS Manian
Has been a Rajya Sabha MP and Lok Sabha MP, was state minister after becoming MLA from Vedaranyam constituency in 2016, known to be close to Sasikala’s brother Divaharan. Observers call him the man with the muscle power for AIADMK in Myladuthurai. When Sasikala was ousted from Poes Garden in 2012, Manian also fell out of Jaya’s favour. But Manian was back in play after Jaya welcomed Sasi back
Dr C Vijay Basker
A doctor by profession; Jayalalithaa had appointed this two-time Member of Legislative Assembly as health minister twice during her regime. Just about 42 years of age, Basker has a long political career ahead. Observers consider him staunch loyalist of Sasikala’s husband M Natarajan
D Jayakumar
Five-time Member of Legislative Assembly from coastal Royapuram, known as a friend of fi shermen. Fell out of Jayalalithaa’s favour allegedly after the supremo was informed of a birthday bash hosted by him where one of his loyalists apparently hailed him as the future Tamil Nadu chief minister. Observers say Jaya had a soft corner for him because he shared her brother’s name
KA Sengottaiyan
AIADMK veteran, ardent MGR and Jayalalithaa loyalist and eighttime Member of Legislative Assembly; won 2016 assembly polls from Gobichettipalayam in western Tamil Nadu’s Coimbatore district. Considered one of the most prominent leaders of the Kongu (western Tamil Nadu) belt for AIADMK. Had his share of rough weather — falling in and out of Jayalalithaa’s favour. With Sasikala after Jayalalithaa’s demise

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