It has been a long cherished dream for this video shop owner (cine CD seller) turned multi biillionaire Sasikala to sit on the CM’s Chair. During Jayalalithaa’s tenure, it was alleged, there were attempts to grab power by her family. But they were successfully nipped at the right time. After the demise of Jayalalithaa, the power thirsty Sasikala and her extended
family, particularly her estranged husband, who is a sacked government PRO turned power lobbyist, M Natarajan, exerted pressure on her. They struck when the iron was hot. On February 5, the party MLAS were called in and asked to move a resolution recommending Sasikala as the CM. Panneerselvam, who is the leader of the legislature party had no indication. When he protested with his usual submissive tone, but the brute majority, most of them want to taste the power, silenced him and, as alleged by OPS, to sign under duress his resignation as CM.
It is a coincidence or an accident, that both the events took place on February 5, while former CM Jayalalithaa died on December 5, after over 75 days of hospitalisation. Now her close confidante Sasikala, aka Chinamma has been chosen to become CM of the State. Both are believers in astrology and numerology. The present incumbent OPS, who took over as the CM after the demise of Jayalalithaa on December 5, had to resign.
Her election ended days of
speculation, the AIADMK on February 5, announced the elevation of party General Secretary Sasikala as the next CM of Tamil Nadu. Last month, she took charge as AIADMK General Secretary
following Jayalalithaa’s demise.
Addressing a meeting of AIADMK MLAs at the party headquarters, Sasikala said, “Following the demise of our Amma, it was OPS who urged me first to take charge as the General Secretary of AIADMK. It was he who insisted first, that I become the Chief Minister of the State.” Meeting the party MLAs at the AIADMK headquarters, Sasikala assured people that the Tamil Nadu Government would continue to work towards the welfare of the people. She also said that the government would continue to follow the values of Jayalalithaa. The party workers said that the Legislative Assembly leader and the CM had always been the same, I accepted the post as per their wishes, to fulfill the ambitions of Amma,” Sasikala said. The meeting was called a day after Sasikala appointed nine former Ministers and 14 senior leaders who were earlier sidelined by Jayalalithaa. In what could be seen as a precursor to the developments, Sasikala gave marching orders to Amma’s loyalists from the CM office, advisor Sheela Balakrishnan, KN Venkatramanan and A Ramalingam.
“I was, however, not in a mood to listen to anything then due to the
passing away of Amma,” she said, adding, she agreed to become the party General Secretary after leaders and cadres persuaded her to do so to fulfill the ideals of Jayalalithaa.
Recalling that party leaders and workers had been urging her that “Both the party General Secretary and Chief Minister should be one and the same person (Sasikala), she said “I am accepting it.”
“I will fuffill the dreams of Amma fully and I give my assurance that this regime will work for the people,” Sasikala said with her eyes moist.
The development marked
continuance of the political legacy of Jayalalithaa and MGR, who had held both the posts of party General Secretary and Chief Minister. But it has been a roller coaster ride for her in
politics, as her detractors in the party had in 1996, accused her of being responsible for Jayalalithaa’s
disastrous election defeat during that year. Sasikala accompanied Jayalalithaa to prison when the latter was arrested in a disproportionate assets case. She suffered a blow when she was expelled for anti-party
activities only to be restored in a
Jayalalithaa’s defeat in the 1996 polls was attributed to her conducting the infamous extravagant wedding of her foster son and Sasikala’s nephew VN Sudhakaran in the previous year.
Sasikala was also jailed along with Jayalalithaa in the alleged colour TV scam in 1996.
After the AIADMK”s rout, Jayalalithaa had announced that she was severing ties with Sasikala. Again in 2011, Sasikala was expelled along with her husband Natarajan and 12 other relatives.
However, on both the occasions, they buried their differences and Sasikala continued living in Jayalalithaa’s Poes Garden residence after assuring her that she would keep away from her relatives. Sasikala’s brother Divakaran, sister-in-law Ilavarasi, her son Vivek, nephews T T V Dinakaran, Venkatesh and Jai Anand, all enjoy some clout in the present government.
A high school dropout from Mannargudi in Tiruvarur district, Sasikala was introduced to Jayalalithaa in 1982 by the former’s husband M Natarajan, then a government public relations officer. Since then, she became a regular in Jayalalithaa’s house. When Jayalalithaa was hospitalised last September, she stood by her bed. After her death, Sasikala returned to Poes Garden and, as Jayalalithaa has not left any will behind, she continued to occupy the residence. And it is this house that she draws all her powers from and it is under the tutelage of Jayalalithaa that she learnt all the political manoeuvring that is now on display in abundant measure in Tamil Nadu.