Jaya's loyalists should unite for AIADMK govt: Sasikala

Jayalalithaa's true loyalists should unite to bring back AIADMK govt: Sasikala

Our goal, as Amma said, is to ensure that AIADMK rules the state for 100 years. Keeping this in mind, we should work towards bringing back the govt to power, she said

 Expelled AIADMK leader VK Sasikala pays tribute to former TN CM Jayaram Jayalalithaa on her return, after serving a jail term in a disproportionate assets case, in Krishnagiri district, Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. Credit: PTI Photo

V K Sasikala on Wednesday took yet another step towards claiming the legacy of her friend and former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa by appealing to the “true loyalists” of the late leader to “unite” to ensure that the AIADMK government is voted back to power in the upcoming assembly elections.

In her first public appearance after she returned to Tamil Nadu on February 9 from Karnataka, Sasikala paid floral tributes to the portrait of Jayalalithaa on her 73rd birth anniversary and announced that she will soon meet cadres and the public.

In a brief televised address, Sasikala, who was removed as interim general secretary of the AIADMK by its current leadership, recalled Jayalalithaa's statement that the AIADMK would continue to rule Tamil Nadu for over a hundred years even after her lifetime.

Read: Amma wanted AIADMK to be there for 100 years: Sasikala hints at return to politics to fulfill Jayalalithaa's wish

“True loyalists of Amma (Jayalalithaa) should unite and face the Tamil Nadu Assembly elections. Our goal, as Amma said, is to ensure that the AIADMK rules the state for 100 years. Keeping this in mind, we should work towards bringing back the government to power. I will extend my support,” Sasikala, who was flanked by her nephew and AMMK leader T T V Dhinakaran, said.

By asking “true loyalists” of Jayalalithaa to “unite”, Sasikala has not just staked claim to the legacy of her late friend and asserted her authority but also sent a signal to the current AIADMK leadership to make peace with her.

Read: Sasikala factor: AIADMK asks cadres to take vow in 'Amma's name' to guard party

Later, a statement issued by her “camp office” had the AIADMK flag and mentioned Sasikala's designation as general secretary of the party. The close confidante of Jayalalithaa also met actor-politician Sarath Kumar, Naam Tamizhar Katchi (NTK) Chief Seeman, and ace director Bharathiraaja on Wednesday.

However, the AIADMK said the message to unite was only for the cadres of the AMMK and not for its partymen. The party also put up a united face with Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and his deputy O Panneerselvam cutting a cake on the occasion of Jayalalithaa's birthday and paying tributes at her memorial, which is closed for the public. In the evening, leaders lit lamps at their house and took a pledge to “protect” the party.

“Sasikala is not just claiming the legacy of Jayalalithaa but also sending across the message that she is of a different quotient from EPS and OPS. She thinks they are not on par with her. She is negating the duo's influence in the party and is projecting her as the person who can unite the AIADMK,” Prof Ramu Manivannan, Head of the Department of Politics and Public Administration, told DH.

Read: Chinamma returns to Chennai: Sasikala fights to reclaim AIADMK

Sasikala's statement is significant as it comes just weeks before the Election Commission of India (ECI) is set to announce the schedule for the Assembly polls. The AIADMK has not yet finalised its alliance partners as it is under pressure from the BJP to include the AMMK in the combine to prevent a split of anti-DMK votes. However, the AIADMK leadership is not too keen on the idea.

Sasikala, who has revived a case challenging her removal as interim general secretary by the AIADMK General Council, is battling to “reclaim” her authority over the party and its current leadership. Both EPS and OPS, who had worked under Sasikala not just when Jayalalithaa but even after her death, are now opposed to her entry into the AIADMK.

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