Jayalalitha expels Sasikala, 13 others
No reason cited as partymen told to shun the expelled
In a major shakeup in the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) in Tamil Nadu, party supremo and Chief Minister Jayalalitha on Monday expelled her long-time friend and confidante V K Sasikala from the party.
Sasikala’s husband M Natarajan and 12 others of their family were also expelled and relieved of all party posts.
Jayalalitha’s action was a total stunner as her party TV channel ‘Jaya TV’ flashed her decision on expelling Sasikala Natarajan, her closest aide for over 20 years, and who along with her was acquitted in the ‘TANSI land deal’ case by the Supreme Court in 2003.
A party statement said besides the duo others expelled from the party are: Divakar of Mannargudi (close to the native place of Sasikala’s family in composite Thanjavur district), T T V Dinakaran, V Bhaskaran, V N Sudhakaran, Dr S Venkatesh, M Ramachandran (M. Natarajan’s brother), Thiru. Eravanan, ‘Adyar’ Mohan who manages a distillery on Chennai’s outskirts, Kulothungan, Raja Rajan, T V Mahadevan and Thangamani.
“All party-men are directed not to have any truck or any contact whatsoever with all these expelled persons,” Jayalalitha said in a statement. She cited no reasons for her action. Sources, however, say that Sasikala-Natarajan’s alleged “undue interference” in the administration, transfers and postings, was a major factor.
The list of the expelled reads like a who-is-who of the powerful OBC ‘Thevar’ community to which Sasikala belongs. Their closeness to Jayalalitha won the AIADMK an unedifying sobriquet as a ‘pro-Thevar party’, particularly in the South.
As the AIADMK chief’s close confidante, Sasikala was considered a ‘power behind the throne’. It was only once, after the 1996 poll drubbing, did Jayalalitha admit to the role of Sasikala and her family in the poll defeat.
Sources said the first signs of the Jayalalitha-Sasikala rift surfaced when ‘Amma’ deposed before a Bangalore special judge in the Rs 66 crore disproportionate assets case.
Intelligence reports had reached Jayalalitha that Natarajan was allegedly trying to take control of the party, heightening the intra-party tussle between Sasikala and her, sources said, adding, the bureaucratic shuffling almost every week was its fallout. Complaints of alleged extortion by Natarajan’s men had also reached the chief minister.
Sasikala is said to have left the Poes Garden residence to another home on the suburbs. Many partymen welcomed Jayalalitha’s decision, saying it would consolidate her hold over party affairs. It would also help the AIADMK to shed its ‘pro-Thevar’ tag and emerge stronger as a more inclusive party as it was in MGR’s time, sources added.