Jayalalithaa 'Amma' is no more – who will inherit her legacy?
The churning has just begun...
New Delhi: J Jayalalithaa is no more. As lakhs of people walked back from the MGR Memorial grounds after laying to rest their beloved Amma, one question was foremost in their minds – what next?
The AIADMK government has four more years in office and Puratchi Thalaivi had an iron grip on its functioning, more importantly, its intent and priorities.
The welfare state created by Jayalalithaa, where the poorest of the poor could fill their stomach, can't be allowed to wither away, being the most prominent sentiment among the masses.
The towering presence of Jayalalithaa and her absolute control over party affairs meant that there was never a second rung of leadership.
The only person to have direct access to Amma was Chinna Amma (mother's younger sister) Sasikala Natarajan.
Sasikala was Jayalalithaa's shadow for the last three decades of her life. And she stood closest to Amma's mortal remains at the Rajaji Hall, travelled in the military vehicle carrying the body to the Marina Beach and performed the last rites - the message was not missed by many.
But something else was also not missed by those present. Sasikala's extended family swarmed the space around the casket.
Her husband M Natarajan, brother Divaharan, sister-in-law Ilavarasi were among those from her family who occupied the center stage.
Sasikala's family has always been a subject of intense speculation in the Tamil Nadu politics. While a section within the AIADMK had in the past alleged that they influenced the government, not much has really been known in the public space about their role.
Jayalalithaa too had doubts about them and had expelled Sasikala and her clan from home and the party.
However, Sasikala soon patched up with Amma and was back in Veda Nilayam, Jayalalithaa's residence in Poes Garden.
After the last rites were conducted yesterday, Sasikala headed back to 'her' Poes Garden home.
O Pannerselvam, a low-profile man who was used to carry out instructions from Jayalalithaa, is back as the Chief Minister. Know to be close to Sasikala, it remains to be observed whether he has the elbow room to function independently or will continue to take orders from Poes Garden.
Media reports suggest that Sasikala may take over the general secretary of the AIADMK, a post vacated by Jayalalithaa.
Also, she may inherit all the assets of Jayalalithaa, including Number 81, Veda Nilayam, Poes Garden.
The property is estimated to be worth at least Rs 90 crore and given the uncertainty on whether Amma has left behind a will, Sasikala may very well be the new boss of the house.
As per a report in The Times of India, Amma also had fixed assets and investments worth over Rs 80 crore.
While Jayalalithaa was a loner and had little contact with her family, her nephew Dipak and niece Deepa Jayakumar had made an appearance at Rajaji Hall.
And given the fact that the Poes Garden home was bought by Jayalalithaa and her mother Sandhya in 1967, they, if they want to, can stake claim to a share of the property.
The churning has just begun...