Sheela Balakrishnan, an official credited with running the Tamil Nadu government while late J Jayalalithaa was hospitalised, has reportedly resigned as advisor to the chief minister.
Government sources indicated that though Balakrishnan’s term ends only on March 31, she was politely asked to leave. Though there was no official confirmation in this regard, the matter came to light when she informed a few colleagues of her decision.
Balakrishnan’s departure coincides with the shifting of two other officials – known to have been close to Jayalalithaa – from the chief minister’s office. They are secretaries to the chief minister KN Venkataramanan and A Ramalingam.
Sources said a rejig in the bureaucracy was also expected.
A 1976-batch IAS official hailing from Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala, Balakrishnan was recalled from retirement and appointed as advisor to the chief minister in 2014. The top civil servant had retired as the chief secretary in 2012. Incidentally, Jayalalithaa had made Balakrishnan the chief secretary by superseding her own husband – who was the senior-most IAS official at the time.
Known for her tough and no-nonsense attitude, Balakrishnan had caught Jayalalithaa’s eye as a young official. In the years that followed, she was given key assignments in the AIADMK administration.
O Panneerselvam succeeded Jayalalithaa as the chief minister after her death on December 5, 2016. The mantle of AIADMK chief was taken up by her aide, VK Sasikala.