Cho S. Ramaswamy, Editor of Thuglak, who has been observing Chief Minister and All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam general secretary Jayalalithaa “from a distance,” as he puts it, says her recent action of expelling long-time friend V.K. Sasikala and many of her family members from the party is a “determined effort to see that no extra-constitutional authorities function.” Mr. Ramaswamy replied to questions from T. Ramakrishnan on how he viewed Ms. Jayalalithaa in her capacities as political leader and Chief Minister.

As a political analyst, how do you view the development of expulsion of V.K. Sasikala from the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam?

As you have said, I can only speak as a political analyst — the man who observes things from a distance, not even from close quarters as some people imagine. Viewing it from a distance, I see it as a determined attempt to cleanse the administration, streamline the functioning of the party and bring about transparency in governance. Also, I see in this a determined effort to see that no extra constitutional authorities function in this State. These are the messages which I get from the latest developments, as an observer from a distance.

Are you sure that this will not lead to the replacement of X by Y ?

I don't see the possibility of it. You must have somebody in mind. If one sees the possibility, one must have somebody in mind — this person will replace somebody who has been displaced. I do not have any such person. As I see, there is no such possibility because I do not see any such person.

I had asked the question only in the context of the practice of some prominent leaders having confidants.

No political leader in the world can function in a vacuum. There must be some reliable persons with whom one can exchange ideas. But, when there is a perception that the person starts substituting himself for the leader, it becomes difficult. That is when an extra-constitutional authority emerges, not till then. Ultimately, all decisions are taken with the consent of the leader. Even ‘Mahabharata' says, do consult a few persons but let not your decisions be known even to the persons whom you consult.

But, when the person with whom the exchange of ideas takes place assumes the role of a leader, problems do emerge. Whenever there is an overreach, there is a problem. Till such time people keep themselves to limits, no extra constitutional authority can emerge.

In the given case, did it arise?

I assume it must have. Otherwise, the actions would not have been necessitated. The actions that have been taken (by Ms Jayalalithaa) are not personal. Personally, Ms. Jayalalithaa may have no problems with somebody. But, when it comes to administration, needs of the State and requirements of proper governance, she must have seen problems. And, that is why these actions have been taken. This has nothing to do with personal likes and dislikes. That's how I see it from a distance. You repeat it, ‘from a distance.'

There is a perception that the government is slipping from its focus in core developmental issues such as power. As she has four and a half years, how should Ms. Jayalalithaa go about in tackling issues concerning governance?

In the first part of your question regarding electricity, the problem was created not by this government but the previous government. This problem cannot be sorted out just by switching on a light. It takes time to generate electricity.

It (the power scenario) had been in a mess when she took over. We all know it. The State was plunged into darkness in the last five years. She has to light it up. She is making attempts. I think the government has gone on record that things will ease up very much in about six months. We have to understand that it takes time to set matters right.

You see, I am given a car to drive. I have been appointed the driver. But, the car is in a hopeless condition because of what the previous driver did. Shock absorbers have gone. The engine does not work. All tyres are punctured. I have to set it right first. She (Ms Jayalalithaa) is in that position. She is setting it right.

Regarding the second part of the question, I do not think that there are many in this country who have understood administration as much as she has. She has a very good grip over the administration. She has set her priorities – power generation, industrialisation, environmental protection, medical care for the poor, and education. All these things she has started implementing. It is not as if she needs direction from a person like me who is a commentator. You see, when (Sachin) Tendulkar is playing (cricket] I may find fault with him but you can't challenge me to go and play like him. That is the advantage of being, what people call, a political analyst.

Do you see whether she has got greater political ambitions – playing a big role at the national level?

I do not think that she has any agenda like that. But, she is not the person to shirk any responsibility because she is the one who meets challenges head on. You have seen it in her career. She takes up challenges but it does not mean she is running after positions.

You ask any administrator in the State who has served various Chief Ministers. They would tell you that she is very good at grasping matters concerning governance. She is a very determined character. If she takes it up, she would discharge her responsibilities and come out with flying colours. That does not mean that I feel she is going to take it up.