Tamil Nadu chief minister and AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa on Monday expelled her close aide of more than 20 years, Sasikala, her husband and 10 relatives from the party.
No reason was cited but sources said Jayalalithaa was angry over Sasikala — who lived in the CM’s house till a few days ago — and her relatives functioning as a parallel power centre in the party. There were also rumours last week of a palace coup against the CM.
Whenever Jayalalithaa has been in power — thrice from 1991 — Sasikala has been accused of having a say in official postings, distribution of poll tickets to party candidates and selection of key office-bearers.
Sasikala’s husband M Natarajan, a former government PR officer, had introduced Sasikala to Jayalalithaa, then propaganda secretary in the AIADMK, during the last stages of MG Ramachandran’s chief ministership from 1977 to 1987.
Jayalalithaa first disowned Sasikala after the AIADMK’s drubbing in the 1996 polls. The defeat was attributed to Sasikala’s ostentatious display of wealth, particularly at her nephew Sudhakaran’s wedding in 1995. But the two patched up some years later.