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Sasikala's expulsion as the general secretary of AIADMK will not evoke any protest

It was also announced that the EPS-OPS factions of the party had now united and that they would retrieve the party's 'two leaves' symbol. Photograph: (WION)

Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India Sep 13, 2017, 08.01 AM (IST) Sampath Kumar

The ouster of  V.K.Sasikala, a close associate of the late Chief Minister Jayalalitha, has come as no surprise. One of the conditions put forth by the leader of one of the two factions, Mr.O.Panneerselvam for the merger with the other faction was that Sasikala should be removed from the post of the general secretary for which she was hurriedly elected soon after the death of Jayalalitha. All went well until she decided to become the chief minister, replacing Mr.O.Panneerselvam who rebelled. She would have been the chief minister if the state governor, Mr Vidyasagar Rao had not delayed inviting to form the government.

Moreover, her chief ministerial ambition was rudely aborted when the Supreme Court delivered its verdict, upholding the trial court’s decision awarding her a sentence of four years. She cannot contest an election for the next ten years and that means her political future is doomed. However, before she moved to Bangalore jail, she hurriedly got her trusted party man E.Palanisamy elected as the chief minister and appointed her nephew T.T.V Dinakaran as the deputy secretary of the party which, incidentally, is a newly created post. This, she did to keep the reins of the party within her family, which is known as the Mannargudi clan, named after the place she hails from. Many even call them the Mannargudu Mafia.

Many even call Sasikala's family the Mannargudu Mafia.

In the confidence motion that followed, in February, Palanisamy won as he had the support of 122 MLAs. But soon Dinakaran threw his hat into the ring and offered himself to contest in the by election caused by the death of Jayalalitha in the R.K Nagar constituency. The chief minister did not expect this.He knew that if Dinakaran won, he would replace him as the chief minister.

Dinakaran himself during his campaign never even mentioned the name of Sasikala as he knew she had become a liability. Rightly or wrongly there was a perception among the cadres of the party and the public in general that Sasikala was responsible for the death of Jayalalitha. During the 75 days Jayalalitha was in the hospital, Sasikal ensured utmost secrecy about her health and allowed none, including the state governor to visit and see her. This gave rise to suspicions about her health and Sasikala's role in it. People were lamenting that it was Sasikala who would not let them have even a glimpse of their beloved leader till she died.

When Sasikala was made the general secretary of the party before she went to jail, there were objections from some of the party members that such a move was against the constitution of the party which stipulated that one should have been a member of the party continuously for five years. In 2011, Jayalalitha expelled Sashikala from the party and readmitted her later after she apologised.This resulted in a break in qualifying party membership.

Sasikala's expulsion from the post is not expected to evoke any protest among the party.

Sasikala's expulsion from the post is not expected to evoke any protest among the party. Even while Jayalalitha was alive, the cadres attributed all the misdeeds and corruption in the party and the government to Sasikala. They were only happy when in 2011, Jayalalitha expelled her, though, briefly from the party.

It is a clever move by the general council to have no general secretary at all. The Council has announced that Jayalalitha will be the ‘’Eternal” general secretary of the AIADMK which will be guided and governed by a steering committee, comprising the chief minister Palanisami and the deputy chief minister Panneerselvam. There is nothing new in this arrangement. When the Dravida Munnetra Kazhakam split from Periyar’s Dravidar Kazhakam, the founder of the DMK, Annadurai kept the post of the president of the party vacant saying that Periyar was still their leader. Later, Karunanidhi changed it and became the president of the DMK. After M.G.Ramachandran’s death, Jayalalitha called herself the general secretary and not the president of the party. Now she continues even after her death and no body will dare to question it.

When Jayalalitha was alive, Sasikala was  operating as an extra constitutional authority and was more feared than the chief minister herself. Officials took orders from her. She was allegedly involved in land grabs, corruption and amasssing of wealth. She wa a partner in many business ventures in which Jayalalitha was also involved and every one knew that her association with Jayalalitha started as a video grapher and video supplier. Partymen and cadres could not openly express their dislike as long as Jayalalitha was alive. Such was the hold Sasikala and her family had on Jayalalitha, that on the day of her funeral all the family members who were expelled from the party  were seen around the body of the late chief minister, indicating the family was back to grab power.

Sampath Kumar

Sampath Kumar is former Head, Tamil Service, BBC

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