National

‘Chinnamma: Amma’s pillar of support’

Our Bureau Chennai | Updated on January 16, 2018 Published on December 29, 2016

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“She was a pillar of support for Jayalalithaa; she ran the household,” said a former senior AIADMK leader, referring to Sasikala’s role in the life of the late J Jayalalithaa. The shadow presence, once described as an extra-constitutional authority during AIADMK regimes under Jayalalithaa, has now taken centre stage.

Citing reasons for proposing Sasikala’s name as party chief, the resolution moved by the party’s Executive Council recalled that “Chinnamma”, as they now call her, had “lived with and looked after Jayalalithaa for 33 years and learnt from close quarters the administrative skills of the leader”. The 60-year-old Sasikala, wife of M Natarajan, a former staff of the Tamil Nadu Information Department, had been introduced to Jayalalithaa in the early 1980s when Jayalalithaa had been the AIADMK’s Propaganda Secretary. She then ran a small business videographing public functions.

From there to becoming a resident of “Veda Nilayam”, Jayalalithaa’s home, running the household and finally taking over as AIADMK General Secretary, it has been a long haul for Sasikala. That she hails from the powerful Devar community has also contributed to her rise.

It was during her 1991-1996 tenure as CM that Jayalalithaa announced as her foster son, VN Sudhagaran, a nephew of Sasikala. But subsequently, when she lost power, Jayalalithaa disowned him and expelled Sasikala from the household, only to take her back in a few months. In 2011 too, after coming to power, Jayalalithaa expelled Sasikala and her relatives from the party’s primary membership. But in a few months, Sasikala was back.

Published on December 29, 2016
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