Chennai: V.K. Sasikala, a close aide and confidante of late chief minister J. Jayalalithaa on Saturday officially assumed charge as the sixth general secretary of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), following a resolution that was passed by the party’s general council on Thursday.

While addressing the party cadres, an emotional Sasikala said, “Amma is not with us now, but our party will stay here and rule for the next 100 years."

While making her first official address, she thanked the AIADMK members and supporters and said: “I have attended thousands of meeting with Amma in the last 33 years. Now, I’m under a situation to accept this post and speak alone without Amma."

“For Amma, the party was life. For me, Amma was life," said a weeping Sasikala.

Sasikala mentioned that she has been “forced" to take charge by the AIADMK members and would strive to maintain the principles of the party founded by M.G.Ramachandran (MGR).

She also claimed that the party will follow her predecessor’s footsteps and will continue to maintain the “military discipline" and the same “yardstick" used for the AIADMK member’s progress in the party will remain.

“I am 62 years old. I have been with Amma since I was 29, when she started her political career. My life was spent in looking after her needs," she added.

In her address, as Sasikala read out from a prepared speech, she continually broke down when referring to Jayalalithaa, or Amma as she is called by her supporters.

The former chief minister, who was hospitalized on 22 September, passed away on 5 December. While the party’s top post fell vacant following her demise, O. Panneerselvam took charge as chief minister of Tamil Nadu, where the AIADMK still has more than four years in power.

Earlier, Sasikala—or Chinnamma, as she is referred to by her supporters—was welcomed by party leaders including Panneerselvam at the AIADMK headquarters. On reaching the party office, Sasikala who continues to stay at Jayalalithaa’s Poes Garden residence, garlanded the statute of MGR and paid floral tributes to Jayalalithaa amid chants of “Ammavin vaarisu Chinnamma (Amma’s heir Chinnamma)" and “Chinnamma vazhagai (long live Chinnamma)".

While speaking about Jayalalithaa’s hospitalization, Sasikala said while she had strongly believed that Jayalalithaa would survive “but god took away our dear Amma".

Sasikala also said that the party will organise a year- long celebration to commemorate the centenary year of MGR starting from January 2017 and will urge the centre to release stamps and coins in his name.

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