After J Jayalalithaa's demise, Sasikala holds all cards — Can she take Amma's legacy forward?

A churning has begun in AIADMK to fill in the post of the general secretary, after the demise of J Jayalalithaa. 

Last Updated: Dec 08, 2016, 18:59 PM IST
After J Jayalalithaa's demise, Sasikala holds all cards — Can she take Amma's legacy forward?

Chennai: Who will head AIADMK next and whether it could be her close aide Sasikala? This question might have striked almost everyone's mind since the news of ill-health  and later death of Tamil Nadu's most charismatic leader J Jayalalithaa came in. 

J Jayalalithaa was one of the most popular and powerful politicians of the country, who served six times as Tamil Nadu Chief Minister for over 14 years and remained as AIADMK general secretary since 1989. 

Filling her void in the party may not be quite easy given the absence of a second line of leadership and moreover absence of successor identified by the late leader.

An indication of things to come may be had from the fact that Chief Minister O Panneerselvam on Thursday held a two-hour long discussion with Sasikala Natrajan, who is widely perceived to be a power centre in the party, more so after Jayalalithaa's death.

Sasikala's supporters in the party claim that she should be a natural choice for the post of General Secretary held by Jayalalithaa, not all others are willing to agree with it. 

Sasikala's supporters say that she had been Amma's aide, sister, friend and confidante, for 30 years through Jayalalithaa's ups and downs. And With O Panneerselvam taking over as Chief Minister, Sasikala should be the ideal choice as the general secretary of the party, they say.

A senior party functionary says that Jayalalithaa had ousted Sasikala twice from the party, once in 1996 after the AIADMK's electoral drubbing and in 2011 months after the party wrested power again from DMK. Such factors had cast a shadow on her as a potential choice to lead the party.

He said Amma herself had announced in 1996 that she was distancing herself from Sasikala and her family to respect the wishes of partymen.

Sasikala's expulsion came against the background of allegations of corruption during the 1991-96 AIADMK regime. The DMK government had arrested Jayalalitha and Sasikala and filed cases against them.

It was also in deference to a public perception that AIADMK was routed in the 1996 Assembly polls only because of Jayalalithaa's close association with Sasikala and her kin that also led to 'Amma' facing jail term.

In particular, the extravagant wedding of Jayalalithaa's foster son VN Sudhakaran, since disowned, in 1995 as among the reasons for Sasikala's expulsion.

On December 19, 2011, Sasikala, her husband M Natarajan, and 12 others who were their close relatives were expelled from the primary membership of the party.

Bharatiya Janata Party Subramanian Swamy believes that the AIADMK will rather explode after Amma's death. O Panneerselvam, who was sworned-in as the Chief Minister overnight, hours after Jayalalithaa's demise, will be unable to run the government as Sasikala won't let anyone grow. 

Swamy also added that only 30% MLA of AIADMK are of the Thevar community, a group that Paneerselvam and Sasikala belong to. Whereas remaining 70% MLAs belong to non-Thevar community and therefore, they won't back Thevar hegemony. In the coming time, Paneerselvam will go through some hard time, the BJP leader said.