Chennai: Troubles aplenty have hit the Mannargudi kin like a shower of bombs from the sky. Though the family and its loyalists in the AIADMK insist that Narendra Modi is in the cockpit of the bomber, those in the dock have only themselves to blame for all the post-Jayalalithaa bloodletting.
The naked greed that burst out aggressively even inside the Apollo Hospital while the doctors prepared the sad announcement on December 5 last year had started it all, say political observers. “Sasikala could have allowed OPS to continue instead of rushing to grab the party leadership and plan to become the Chief Minister thereafter.
It was not just the greed for power but also a flawed strategy to get into positions of authority hoping that it would insulate her from court conviction in the DA case and at least delay the imprisonment indefinitely. It misfired”, said Prof Gladstone Xavier of the Loyola College.
He said considering that Jayalalithaa’s demise left the party leaderless, the Mannargudi kin should have looked more for strategic priorities to heal the post-mortem trauma and strengthen the party. “But they pursued personal agendas thereby causing huge public revulsion for they were doing just the opposite of what Jayalalithaa had propounded-that there would be no family rule in the AIADMK”, pointed out Prof Xavier.
While the media played a critical role in highlighting the family’s vulgar haste in grabbing the space created by Jayalalithaa’s demise, the way they paraded themselves at the funeral scared the people as it portended the calamity that could strike the state if a family identified so strongly with high corruption got into the seat of power. There has been a strong public perception that this family could be a polluting element in the ruling party and the government, so it must be stopped at all costs.
This public revulsion was clearly reflected in the campaign in the RK Nagar by-election where Sasikala’s nephew TTV Dhinakaran hoisted himself as the candidate. Sensing the people’s anger against aunt Sasikala, he decided to keep her pictures off his posters and took care not to mention her in his election speeches — even earlier, people in many places in the city had torn Sasikala’s picture from the party posters celebrating her ‘election’ as the general secretary.
Even a political novice could see that Dhinakaran had planned to replace Edappadi Palanisami as the Chief Minister the very moment that the poll result showed him as winner. And even a blind-mute bystander could see the huge flood of money that hit the impoverished north Chennai constituency. All this naked aggression to quickly grab the control of state administration rattled the commoner while angering the rulers in Delhi.
Modi has been angry with Sasikala for long, ever since Jayalalithaa announced her banishment from Poes Garden in December 2011 amid reports that she had plotted along with her family to physically eliminate Jayalalithaa so as to grab her wealth and political power.
The late editor of Thuglak, Cho Ramaswamy, had played crucial role in comforting Jayalalithaa at that time and creating care facilities at Poes Garden. It appears that Mr Modi, then CM of Gujarat, had also helped. But then, Jayalalithaa took Sasikala back, much to the shock and disdain of well-wishers like Cho and Modi. Keen on cleaning up Indian politics, Mr Modi would not accept the prospect of Sasikala stepping into Jayalalithaa’s shoes.
Sources said he had conveyed to her that she should refrain from trying to take charge of the AIADMK and the state government as the Supreme Court was yet to pronounce the verdict in the Disproportionate Assets case in which Jayalalithaa and she were the prime accused. But Sasikala would not agree.
“You can see the divine hand playing throughout in this battle to uphold dharma and defeat evil”, said noted columnist S. Gurumurthy. Explaining, he recalled that the day after Sasikala became the party general secretary, the Supreme Court announced it would pronounce the DA judgment. When Dhinakaran wanted to become CM through RK Nagar by-election, the greed was defeated by the tax raids throwing up evidence of high corruption in the constituency. Then came the Delhi report of the arrest of conman Sukesh Chandrasekhar for allegedly taking money from TTV to bribe the Election Commission officials for redeeming the party’s two-leaves symbol. The nephew’s arrest appeared imminent.
Interestingly, there aren’t many even within the ruling party, leaving alone the outside allies, shedding tears for the Family which is in deep trouble. Only state Congress president S. Thirunavukarasu has come out with a statement accusing the BJP of causing confusion and problems within the AIADMK — he had earlier helped the family by fetching Rahul Gandhi to see Jayalalithaa in the Apollo Hospital but that hardly mattered.
Senior Congressman P. Chidambaram said the Sasikala faction had only MLAs and lacked in cadre support. Former PCC president EVKS Elangovan, reacting to Sasikala banging her hand on Jayalalithaa’s Samadhi, had said, ‘If she could slap Jayalalithaa so hard even after her death, just imagine what she would have done when she was alive…’; thus reviving the doubts regarding Jayalalithaa’s medical treatment and her death.