V.K. Sasikala is likely to be sworn in as chief minister of Tamil Nadu today. It marks a meteoric rise—and raises two questions. Firstly, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) settled on Sasikala as a convenient unifying figurehead in the wake of J. Jayalalithaa’s death. But with a disproportionate assets case hanging over her head and exiled AIADMK MP Sasikala Pushpa as well as others outside the party questioning her credentials, will she be able to hold the party together?
The second question pertains to Tamil Nadu’s unique political economy. Populism, corruption and an autocratic style of functioning usually result in poor governance. But over the past several decades, Jayalalithaa and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief M. Karunanidhi—guilty of all those sins—have, in alternating spells at the top, overseen sterling economic performance and social development. It will be intriguing to see if the new guard, Sasikala and Karunanidhi’s heir M.K. Stalin, can keep the old model going.