Chennai: VK Sasikala, a close aide of the late Chief Minister and AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa, on Saturday took charge as the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam General Secretary.
The close aide of late Jayalalithaa first garlanded the statue of party founder MG Ramachandran at the AIADMK headquarters here after she arrived in the midst of tight security.
She then proceeded to pay floral tributes to the portrait of Jayalalithaa.
After assuming charge amid chants of 'Chinnamma Vazhagai' by thousands of supporters, an emotionally charged Sasikala said: “Amma is always in my heart.”
She added that she had been with Jayalalithaa for party meetings for over 33 years and that the AIADMK will continue to rule for many years.
Addressing party members, Sasikala said Annadurai, MGR and Jayalalithaa are the identities of this massive organisation.
"Other than these people nobody else will be projected in the forefront," Sasikala said.
She said MGR and Jayalaltihaa were leaders beyond caste and religious lines and the party would continue to follow their path.
Sasikala said the birth centenary of party founder MGR begins on January 17, 2017, and the party would celebrate that in a grand manner throughout the year.
She said the party would urge the central government to issue a commemorative stamp and also a currency coin with MGR`s image.
In her first public speech, Sasikala said the loss of Jayalalithaa is a personal loss for her and cannot be described in words.
Sasikala formally assumed charge by signing papers after which she proceeded to address the gathering outside.
En route to the party office, she was given a rousing welcome by party leaders, functionaries and cadres who had gathered in large numbers.
Party activists had lined up on both sides of the road from the Poes Garden residence to the party headquarters at Royapettah to welcome her.
Sasikala, clad in a light green saree with a pink border, greeted them with folded hands.
Party flags, banners and festoons sporting bright images of Jayalalithaa and Sasikala were put up on roads, all along from Poes garden to Royapettah.
Banners and hoardings hailed Sasikala as Chinnamma everywhere.
AIADMK presidium chairman E Madusudanan, party treasurer and Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, veteran party leader and Lok Sabha deputy speaker M Thambidurai, received Sasikala and accompanied her to the party office.
Party leaders led her to the office of the general secretary where she held discussions with Panneerselvam, who is also party treasurer, Madusudanan, Thambidurai, and others.
The AIADMK headquarters at Royapettah was spruced up for the occasion. A platform was set up near the MGR statue to facilitate Sasikala to pay tributes to the party founder before taking charge. Ministers, party MPs, MLAs also participated.
On December 29, the ruling AIADMK had passed a resolution that Sasikala was the only person fit to become the General Secretary. There was no other contestant for the AIADMK's top post.
Clad in green colour saree - the favourite colour of Jayalalithaa, Sasikala had received the resolution, kept it before Jayalalithaa's picture and bowed to it.
(With Agency inputs)