Jayalalithaa sacks long-time confidant Sasikala

Chennai : In a dramatic move, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa threw out her long-time confidant V.K. Sasikala and 11 others from the basic membership of her AIADMK party.

Acting a week after she had first indicated that there were problems between her and Sasikala, the chief minister also booted out her husband M. Natarajan and 10 others.

Most of them were known to be related to Sasikala, who over the past two decades had emerged as a close companion of Jayalalithaa and was also seen by many as a parallel power centre.

In a brief statement, the AIADMK chief, who took power in May, asked party members not to have any dealing with the expelled lot.

There was no immediate reaction from Sasikala, who used to live with the chief minister and was frequently seen in her company both at private and public events.

The others expelled from the AIADMK are V. Baskaran, T.T.V. Dinakaran, Diwakar, V.N. Sudhakaran, S. Venkatesh, M. Ramachandran, Ravanan, Mohan, Kulothungan and Rajarajan.

Jayalalithaa gave no reasons why she was taking this extreme step. But party sources said this could be due to widespread charges of interference by Sasikala and her associates in the running of the administration.

It was a week ago that Jayalalithaa had indicated to some of her ministers that it would be good if they distanced themselves from Sasikala.

It is rumoured that the Sasikala group was keen on bringing the AIADMK under their control fearing Jayalalithaa could be convicted in the disproportionate assets case now being heard in Bangalore.

“Sasikala had emerged so powerful that few people could reach the chief minister without her (Sasikala’s) knowledge and permission,” said a senior government official who did not want to be identified.

The sacking comes ahead of AIADMK’s executive and general council meetings slated for Dec 30 here.

Calling Jayalalithaa’s move bold, political commentator Gnani told said : “The chief minister owes an explanation to the party and the people for the reasons behind the sudden expulsion.”

According to him, the sacking would not impact the party as “Jayalalithaa is the vote catcher and the mass leader”.

“The dismissed people may not be able to break the party. On the other hand, party cadres would be really happy to hear this news,” he said.

Another AIADMK leader said that Jayalalithaa had a strong hold on the party and there was no threat to her leadership.

As the news became known, party members gathered outside Jayalaltihaa’s residence and shouted slogans hailing the “revolutionary leaders” – as the chief minister is addressed by admirers.

This is the second time Jayalaltihaa has ousted Sasikala from AIADMK. She was expelled the first time after the AIADMK’s defeat in 1996. But the two later reconciled their differences.

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