AIADMK, cadre will be saved: Sasikala at Jayalalithaa’s memorial

Sasikala left her residence from Chennai T Nagar residence at 10.30 am, with her supporters standing along the road route to greet her. At Jayalalithaa’s memorial, Sasikala turned emotional and was seen wiping her tears, while laying a wreath.
Former AIADMK leader V K Sasikala during her visit to Jayalalithaa memorial in Chennai on Saturday. (AFP)
Former AIADMK leader V K Sasikala during her visit to Jayalalithaa memorial in Chennai on Saturday. (AFP)
Published on Oct 17, 2021 12:40 AM IST
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ByHT Correspondent, Chennai

Ousted AIADMK leader V K Sasikala on Saturday visited the mausoleum of her housemate of three decades and former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa in the same car once used by the latter with the party flag fluttering on its bonnet.

Sasikala left her residence from Chennai T Nagar residence at 10.30 am, with her supporters standing along the road route to greet her. At Jayalalithaa’s memorial, Sasikala turned emotional and was seen wiping her tears, while laying a wreath.

“Everyone knows the reason I came here so late. I don’t want to talk about the past. I have poured my heart to her (Jayalalithaa). I told her whatever happened (in the past five years). I am confident Thalaivar (MGR) and Amma (Jayalalithaa) will save the AIADMK and its cadre. The future will be good,” Sasikala told reporters after the visit. “Amma and I were inseparable. I spent more than half of my life with her,” Sasikala added.

Jayalalithaa’s resting place on Chennai’s Marina beach along with other Dravidian stalwarts is significant for the AIADMK. Sasikala last visited this place on February 15, 2017, before proceeding by road to Bengaluru to surrender before Parappana Agrahara prison authorities for serving a four-year jail term in the disproportionate assets (DA) case.

Sasikala had planned to visit the memorial following her return from Bengaluru prison earlier in February this year. However, the then AIADMK government led by Edapaddi Palaniswami, whom she had handpicked as Tamil Nadu chief minister before going to prison, had closed the mausoleum, citing maintainable work, just a few days after opening it in a bid to prevent her entry.

Sasikala had “stepped aside” from politics before the April 6 assembly elections as none of her former protégés or senior AIADMK leaders met her. But since their defeat, she has been engaging over phone and releasing audio clips of conversations with AMMK and the AIADMK cadre. She has been consoling the AIADMK cadre that she will “set the party right”.

Reacting to Sasikala’s visit, former AIADMK minister and spokesperson D Jayakumar described it as “stunt” saying that she can be considered for an “Oscar Award ” for her “acting skills” but will never be allowed back into the party. “Every day lakhs of people visit Amma’s memorial, and she (Sasikala) is just one among them. There is no need to talk more about the visit,” he said.

Sasikala will visit M G Ramachandran’s residence in Ramapuram on Sunday morning to mark 50 years of ADMK (later renamed AIADMK). Her visit comes a day before the AIADMK is set to enter in its golden jubilee year, and days after the party’s humiliating defeat in the recently-held local body polls across Tamil Nadu, that was swept by the ruling DMK.

The defeat in newly-carved nine districts is the AIADMK’s third since Jayalalithaa’s passing in December 2016. Edappadi Palanisami and O Panneerselvam, both Sasikala’s loyalists turned foes, have been running the party in a dual leadership. Following her imprisonments, the duo expelled Sasikala and her nephew TTV Dhinakaran, who went on to float the Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK) along with Sasikala’s supporters with the sole aim of retrieving the AIADMK.

Despite the AIADMK leadership stonewalling Sasikala, Panneerselvam, in particular, is has been softer towards the idea of her return to the party due to being sidelined by the Palaniswami camp and both belong to the same Mukkalathur community.

Sasikala continues to hover and threaten the AIADMK’s present set up, which is currently Tamil Nadu’s principal opposition, leading the NDA alliance after a decade of ruling the state. “As of now, Sasikala’s electoral strength is zero,” said political commentator Raveendran Duraisamy. “No doubt, Sasikala is bold and has a stature and community support, but until she can be an electoral force, the AIADMK will neither respect nor take her back.”

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Wednesday, December 08, 2021