Jayalalithaa is the undisputed leader of the AIADMK and she is the only face the rest of India knows in the party. There is none in the party who commands the kind of support and charisma that she does.
Moreover the AIADMK is not a family driven party and Jayalalithaa has not projected an heir.
There is a great deal of uncertainty in the party today. Top leaders of both the Congress and the BJP have visited the Apollo hospital in the recent days. Although political colors are being attached to these visits, the leaders who paid a visit to the hospital maintained that it was just a courtesy call.
Each time Jayalalithaa has been unable to occupy the Chief Minister's chair, it has been O Panneerselvam filling in for her.
As of today he holds the portfolios that Jayalalithaa was in charge of. Political observers say that OPS cannot be a successor as he can hold on only for a very short time.
Dr Sandeep Shastri, a leading psephologist tells OneIndia that the whole question is how long Jayalalithaa would take to gain control over the system.
"Given the fact that people do not have access to her, questions are being raised as to who controls the system. I think the governor took a wise decision in allocating the portfolios held by her to Paneerselvam," Dr Shastri also adds.
Will the AIADMK stay united?
Dr Shastri says that an illness or incapacity of a leader to discharge his or her duties is a temporary phase. However, it would depend on how long this phases continues. "I think if it gets prolonged there would be further questions as to who looks after the affairs of the state," he said.
The AIADMK as a party revolves around Jayalalithaa alone. She is central to the party in many senses. "The AIADMK has faced similar situations in the past and it has dealt with it. However, as I pointed out it would all depend on how long such a phase lasts," Dr Shastri says.
"I feel that the ideal situation would be to have some else officially in charge if this phase becomes longer. In such a scenario Tamil Nadu would need an exclusive governor.
I read that an independent governor would be appointed soon by the centre. Once this happens I see a gentle pursuance by Delhi through the office of the governor. If there an independent governor for Tamil Nadu the centre could make its opinion felt through a gentle nudge through the governor," Dr Shastri also adds.