Tamil Nadu

V.K. Sasikala: From soul sister to party leader

A poster of V.K. Sasikala, projecting her as the next AIADMK leader seen in Royapettah, Chennai   | Photo Credit: R. Ragu

Better known as late Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa’s confidante, V.K. Sasikala has been appointed as the next AIADMK General Secretary. The AIADMK General Council meeting that took place today in Vanagaram, Chennai, on Thursday came up with the resolution to anoint her as the next leader of the party.

A screaming headline in the party organ Namadhu MGR on Wednesday had anticipated the development as it showed her in the front page as accepting requests from local leaders and representatives of local newspapers to take over the reins of the party after the demise of Ms. Jayalalithaa.

V.K. Sasikala: From soul sister to party leader

A screenshot of 'Namadhu MGR front page story on Wednesday. Photo: Special Arrangement

Ms. Jayalalithaa had once referred to Ms. Sasikala as her “Udanpirava sagodari” or a sister who is not related by blood. During the funeral ceremony of Ms. Jayalalithaa, Ms. Sasikala and her family members garnered attention by remaining close to the casket in which the former CM’s body was kept for public display before she was laid to rest near the Marina beach. Ms. Sasikala also performed the last rites of the former CM along with Jayalalithaa's nephew Deepak Jayakumar, raising eyebrows in several quarters.

A few days after Ms. Jayalalithaa’s death, wall posters began to appear all over Chennai and in parts of Tamil Nadu projecting Sasikala as the next-in-line leader in the AIADMK, following M.G. Ramachandran and Jayalalithaa.

Hailing from the Thevar community in Mannargudi, in Tiruvarur district of Tamil Nadu, Ms. Sasikala was first introduced to Jayalalithaa in 1982 by former IAS officer V.S. Chandralekha. Recounting the details in her famous biography Amma: Jayalalithaa’s Journey from Movie Star to Political Queen author Vaasanthi writes about how Ms. Sasikala, who ran a video parlour in Chennai’s Alwarpet locality until then, slowly took hold of Ms. Jayalalithaa’s Poes Garden residence by bringing over 40 servants from her hometown, to run the day-to-day affairs of the house. The wife of R. Natarajan, a Public Relations Officer in the Tamil Nadu government, Ms. Sasikala gained the confidence and friendship of Ms. Jayalalithaa over time but their friendship had its ups and downs.

Ms. Sasikala was earlier expelled from the AIADMK by Ms. Jayalalithaa. On 19 December, 2011, Jayalalithaa expelled Ms. Sasikala, her husband Natarajan and 12 of their relatives from the AIADMK’s primary membership. However, later Ms. Jayalalithaa revoked the expulsion order after Ms. Sasikala wrote a letter to her “expressing her unflinching loyalty to Akka (elder sister)”, according to news reports.

Ms. Sasikala and her nephew V.N. Sudharakan are co-accused in the disproportionate assets case against Ms. Jayalalithaa. However, legal experts are divided on whether the Supreme Court can now go ahead and pronounce its verdict on their culpability.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2021 7:31:47 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/V.K.-Sasikala-From-soul-sister-to-party-leader/article16957898.ece

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