Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa expelled MP Sasikala Pushpa from the AIADMK on Monday, prompting the Rajya Sabha member to claim in Parliament that her “leader slapped” her and that her life was under threat.
The dramatic developments came two days after Pushpa slapped DMK MP Tiruchi Siva at the Delhi airport, triggering a controversy and delaying a flight.
“Sasikala Pushpa sacked from the party for bringing ill fame to the party,” the AIADMK’s official Twitter handle read.
Raising the matter in the Rajya Sabha on Monday, Pushpa – who shares her name with a close associate of Jayalalithaa -- broke down, saying that she had been slapped by the leader.
“My life and dignity is under threat. Will the government save me?... I am being harassed. I need protection. In Tamil Nadu, I don’t have safety,” she told the Rajya Sabha. “Where is women’s safety in this country?”
Pushpa said Siva was “a decent man” and had apologised to her but she was now being pressurised to resign from the Upper House.
“I am being compelled to resign from my constitutional post… I will not do it,” she said.
Pushpa said Siva was “a decent man” and had apologised to her but she was now being pressurised to resign from the Upper House. “I will not do it,” she said.
The rivalry between Tamil Nadu’s big parties — the AIADMK and DMK — had led to a scuffle between two parliamentarians on Saturday.
Pushpa slapped Siva after he refused to travel in the same aircraft, airport security officials said.
The two, both Rajya Sabha members, were scheduled to fly to Chennai. Airline officials said Siva requested them to offload him because he didn’t want to share an aircraft with Pushpa.
Seeing Siva emerge from the security hold area, the upset AIADMK MP ran towards him and slapped him. Security personnel separated them before things got out of hand.
Pushpa is one of the few prominent women leaders in the AIADMK and was nominated by the CM to stand for Rajya Sabha elections in 2014 -- the conclusion, many thought, to her meteoric rise through the party ranks.
Pushpa began her political career as a party worker, before climbing up the ranks to become a ward councillor in Thoothukdui, and finally mayor.
This is not the first time that the two have been at loggerheads: Jayalalithaa had removed Pushpa from as president of the party’s women’s wing as well as forced her to step down as deputy leader of the AIADMK’s Rajya Sabha party in January.
Rumours indicated her alleged support of a sand mafia tycoon in Thoothukudi and proximity to DMK Rajya Sabha MP Kanimozhi had vexed Jayalalithaa.
But the six-time chief minister’s mercurial temper is well known: And this, exacerbated by Saturday’s bout of fisticuffs with Siva, appears to have put a brake on Pushpa’s fledgling career.