The AIADMK General Secretary VK Sasikala will take over as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu following her election as the leader of the Legislature Party today.

She will take over from O Panneerselvam, who has submitted his resignation. In separate letters to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Governor Vidyasagar Rao, he thanked them for the “support and cooperation” during his tenure as Chief Minister. Panneerselvam took over as the chief minister on December 5 last year following the demise of the previous chief minister J Jayalalithaa.

Sasikala, 62, was unanimously elected leader of the AIADMK Legislature Party at a meeting of the MLAs today, said a press release from the AIADMK.

A formal swearing-in ceremony is imminent. She will be the third chief minister to be sworn in following the Assembly elections last year.

“Thanks for all your support. Chinnamma ( referring to Sasikala) will lead Tamil Nadu on the path shown by Puratchithalaivi Amma [Jayalalithaa],” said a tweet by Chief Minister O Panneerselvam.

Sasikala took over as AIADMK General Secretary on December 29 following the death of Jayalalithaa. .

While Panneerselvam was sworn in the chief minister within hours of Jayalalithaa’s demise, speculation had been rife that Sasikala would take over the party leadership, and subsequently, as the chief minister of the State.

Sasikala, a close confidante of Jayalalithaa for over three decades, has never taken centre stage previously though she was considered a power behind the scenes. Essentially, a political novice who has never faced elections, she was a consensus candidate for the post of general secretary because of her association with Jayalalithaa.

She will now have to face an election within six months to formally consolidate her position as legislature party leader.

AIADMK senior leaders have been urging her to take over as the chief minister.

M Thambidurai, Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha, had openly come out in favour of Sasikala becoming chief minister on the grounds that the party general secretary and post of chief minister have to be held by one person.

In December, four state ministers had asked Sasikala to become the chief minister. A resolution to this effect was also passed at a meeting of theTirunelveli Urban Jaya Peravai led by Revenue Minister RB Udhayakumar.

“Following the demise of our Amma [Jayalalithaa], it was Paneerselvam who urged me first to take charge as the general secretary of AIADMK. It was Paneerselvam who insisted first, that I become the Chief Minister of the State,” read a tweet quoting Sasikala on @CMOTamilNadu. “Tamil Nadu Government will follow the principles of Amma,” Sasikala said in another tweet.

Not much fanfare Though the party decision was on expected lines, there was not much fanfare at the headquarters with a small presence of party workers turning up on a hot Sunday afternoon.

This was in contrast to usually huge turnout whenever Jayalalithaa visited the party headquarters, said a worker.

“We don’t have a choice but to work under Chinnamma,” he added.

“She was the shadow of Jayalalithaa for over two decades. She knows the party well, and also about governance. We will have a very good rule under Chinnamma,” said an MLA.

Earlier in the day, Panneerselvam, along with a senior AIADMK leaders, met Sasikala at the Poes Garden residence for over two hours.

Panneerselvam arrived at the party headquarters at around 2 pm, while Sasikala arrived at 3 pm.

She stayed for 30 minutes, waved to party supporters from the balcony and left.