V Sasikala, the expelled AIADMK general secretary, can always be relied upon to spring surprises and add a slice of drama to Tamil Nadu’s political scene. After bowing out of politics without much ado in March this year ahead of the TN Assembly elections (which was anyway viewed with heavy scepticism), Sasikala seems to have expressed her desire to return to politics and reportedly all for a noble cause – to “set right” the AIADMK.
In telephone conversations with her supporters in the AIADMK party, the audio of which has been strategically leaked to the media, Sasikala has conveyed her displeasure and her sadness at the public spat between the AIADMK party leaders Edappadi Palaniswami (EPS) and O Panneerselvam (OPS).
The factional rivalry between OPS and EPS has ostensibly come out in the open, as the two leaders have even engaged in a verbal altercation during an AIADMK Legislature Party meeting held to select the leader of the Opposition in the Assembly. However, EPS won the battle and has been appointed as the Opposition leader. OPS and EPS are now functioning independently and even release individual statements on matters of public importance, said a Deccan Herald report.
Meanwhile, in the audio conversations which have gone viral on social media, Sasikala is heard saying that she will “come soon” after the COVID-19 pandemic subsides. She is heard telling a supporter not to worry. “We will set the party right soon. I will come after the COVID-19 outbreak is over,” she said.
In another audio clip, Chinnamma told a party worker in Thanjavur district that she will not be a mute spectator and watch the party be ruined. She assured him that she will announce a good decision soon. “I will come soon, and it is certain. They are fighting in the public, and it pains me. We have made sacrifices to nurture the AIADMK and we won’t remain a mute spectator to the decline of the party,” Sasikala was heard saying in the audio clip, quoted media reports.
The cadre has assured “Amma” of their support. According to media reports, the audio clips are genuine and have been verified by Janarthanan, the personal assistant to the AMMK General Secretary TTV Dinakaran, and other AMMK sources. And they have confirmed that Sasikala is closely monitoring the situation and will meet her supporters in a few months.
Sasikala’s return to active politics comes amid the declining fortunes of the AIADMK, which has lost face with its poor performance in the recently concluded Assembly elections.
After reportedly stepping aside from active politics in March this year, Chinnamma had been staying in Chennai’s T Nagar area. This was after her release from Parappana Agrahara central prison in Bengaluru on February 8.
Sasikala had served four years in prison after the Supreme Court upheld her conviction by a special court in Bengaluru in a disproportionate assets case in 2017. This came at a time when she was being probed for her alleged role in former CM Jayalalithaa’s death. She had made Edappadi Palaniswami the Chief Minister in the hope that he would hold the post for her till she was in jail.
Instead, Sasikala was ousted from the party itself after rival factions led by O Panneerselvam, who had rebelled against Sasikala merged with the Palaniswami faction. Both Sasikala and Dhinakaran were removed from the AIADMK party in September 2017.