Has Sasikala incriminated herself irretrievably?

Has Sasikala Natarajan, in a mad haste to grab power, painted herself into a tricky political corner?

Has she invited trouble upon herself by being declared ‘unanimously elected’ as the leader of All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam legislature party?

“Veda Nilayam [the late Jayalalithaa’s residence in the heart of Chennai] was the residence of Tamil Nadu’s Chief Minister. To continue staying there, I have now become the future CM!”

In a nutshell, that is the latent meaning behind the declaration of her being elected Legislature Party leader of the AIADMK.

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But, that raises more questions. Replies to a few of them could render Sasikala’s life, as the future CM of Tamil Nadu, a complete misery.

“Outgoing CM O Panneerselvam [OPS] himself proposed the name of “Chinnammaa’ thereby showing the party is solidly behind the future CM. Since the days of [late] MG Ramachandran, who founded the AIADMK, that has been the practice and so it continues,” the roly-poly former drama actress and current spokesperson Saraswati told news channels.

That exactly is where the troubles of Vivekanandan Krishnaveni Sasikala and her husband Natarajan could begin.

The operative portion of the resignation letter penned by O Panneerselvam [OPS now nicknamed Oops] reads thus: Due to my personal reasons, I am tendering my resignation from the post of Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. Kindly accept my resignation and relieve the council of ministers appointed by me on 6.12.2016. 

AIADMK apologists could hastily say that is the exact format for tendering an acceptable resignation. While that is true, “personal reasons” can be interpreted in myriad ways. In a crunch situation of the future, OPS can say, such “personal reasons” include [1] pressure from the Sasikala Group, [2] suspicion of the Mannargudi Mafia’s hand in Jaya’s mysterious death, [3] a wish to retire from public life in peace as those close to him [reportedly like Sekar Reddy, Ram Mohan Rao etc] are being persistently targeted by Sasikala group, etc. etc.

OPS could opt out of joining Sasikala’s future cabinet citing “personal reasons”. If that possibility sounds ominous, the converse – his agreeing to joining the cabinet – the announcement is yet to be made by the Mannargudi marauder gang – could prove to be worse for Sasikala. In the case of a crunch situation, a legally constituted cabinet of ministers are to be held responsible for all decisions – jointly and severally. All OPS has to do is slip in a minor glitch in the statement over the formation of his ministry on 6-12-2016 and the defecation would hit the fan. 

Quoting Sasikala, the Times of India said thus in its report:

Sasikala had a special word of praise for Panneerselvam, stating “whenever the party faced tough times and whenever there were difficulties in Amma becoming the chief minister, it was our dear brother Panneerselvam who has been loyal.”

“It was Panneerselvam who had first persuaded me to become the Chief Minister and General Secretary as well when Jayalalithaa passed away,” Sasikala told party legislators in her acceptance speech.

Was OPS being really loyal?

Is he merely appearing to be loyal and cleverly removing himself from all dangerous positions of the future?

Has he succeeded in painting the picture of self-effacing-sacrificing person – simultaneously to use it tellingly in future?

One of the senior journalists outside the Lloyd’s Road party headquarters of the AIADMK is said to have muttered thus immediately after Sasikala’s election as legislature party leader: “It would be interesting to see whether OPS decides to be the number 2 and also the FM as doubtlessly Sasikala would retain the Home portfolio and thus control the police. That is a rather piquant situation as – the Madras High Court is seized of the matter concerning the mysterious sudden death of Jayalalithaa. Stories indicating foul play during the run up to Jaya’s arrival at the Apollo Hospitals have appeared since December 15 2016. Demands for an explanation from the state government have begun growing. None can predict what the court ends up saying in its final denouement. Significantly, Sasikala’s challenger and the late Jayalalithaa’s niece Deepa has been keeping the heat on Sasikala relentlessly. Chairman of the medical facility – Pratap Reddy is rattled. If Reddy pushes the ball into Sasikala’s court as press reports saying the hospital doctors couldn’t do much during the last 2 days as reports had suggested [1], the onus of proving absence of any wrongdoing on the part of Sasikala and those around her will fall squarely on Sasikala when she is sworn in the CM. If the courts do not believe a clean chit given to herself [as can be guessed by anyone at this point time] by Sasikala in the matter of Jaya’s death, the courts could do some more questioning. As Sasikala’s actions prevented virtually all VVIPs meeting Jaya in her hospital ward, her statement would be under extreme and tough legal scrutiny if Reddy washes his hands off. What could emerge from it all is anybody’s guess. But, something wrong could be one of the outcomes. Sasikala seems to have closed the option of wriggling out of such a piquant position by getting elected as the legislature party head to become the CM rather prematurely. Surely, she would be holding the home portfolio. The cases – if any over Jaya’s sudden and mysterious end – would have to be inevitably handled in the beginning by the TN police. That is where the whole going becomes tricky. If the courts think that the state cops are doing a wishy-washy job, the matter would move into the hands of the Central Bureau of Investigation [CBI]. If and when that happens, one would have to look at the centre’s attitude towards the Mannargudi Mafia. Already 3 old cases against Sasikala and co have been resurrected. If such a thing comes to past, the exhumation of Jaya’s mysterious death could cause a major stink,” the legally knowledgeable senior journalist said.

There are other trickier issues. On September 27 2016, officials – including currently disgraced ex-Chief Secretary Ram Mohan Rao, secretaries to the late CM Venkataramanan and Ramalingam – believed to be close to Panneerselvam – had met Jaya, claimed an official press release. The matter was reported by one of Chennai’s young, bright journalists – Julie Mariappan of the Times of India. The two secretaries and their senior Sheela Balakrishnan were said to have been forced to leave their posts on the eve of Sasikala being elected as legislature party leader. Suppose…a few of the bureaucrats contradict Julie’s September 27 2016 report and ipso facto the wordings of the official press release, that single event could cast a vain shadow on the very meeting they were supposed to have held with the late CM. Wild conspiracy theories could emerge from the slightest “if” or or “but” in the hypothetical possibility of the officials hinting at their not having met the CM. The resultant heat from its legal repercussions in court would prove extremely unbearable for Sasikala. What one can also read between the lines is that OPS has cleverly wriggled out of the situation and lobbed a live grenade sans its safety pin into Sasikala’s court instead of the proverbial ball in a sports game. Pun-fun intended,” the journalist added.

Sasikala may find her future path thorny, reported the Hindustan Times. [2]

Other reports suggest that Sasikala is under the centre’s microscope.

An unconfirmed story doing its round links Jayalalithaa, her yet to be publicised will and the entry of highly respected journalist Cho S Ramaswamy into the ICU where Jaya was undergoing treatment for intensive treatment in the last few hours before Jaya’s death. “It was handed over to Cho for safekeeping as both were close friends. None knows where the will is, but, it could surface,” goes the story.

Regardless of whether such a will exists or not, an interesting dimension has been added to the tale. Cho Ramaswamy was wheeled into the ICU around 2-45 p.m. on December 5 2016. If the statement put out by Apollo Hospitals is true on the issue of the death of Jayalalithaa, the two old friends – viz. Cho and Jaya were in the same room within the ICU. Alongside Cho were doctors attending on him. If someone raises a query about the time of Jaya’s death to Cho’s doctors, what would the answer be? Regardless of anyone hinting at foul play, if the time of Jaya’s death differs from the official version and the one said by Cho’s medical team, the going would be hugely tricky for Sasikala, for, Cho was not only Jaya’s friend, but also a close friend of Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi! 

In 1996, it was Cho who brought the DMK and the late Congress veteran Moopanar together to upset Jaya’s apple-cart. In 2011, it was Cho again whose advice resulted in actor-turned-politician Vijaykant agreeing to form an alliance with Jaya’s AIADMK that sent the DMK packing. If something emerges from the current imbroglio, one can safely say that Cho changed the TN regime for the third time! And this time, if it happens, the deed would be posthumous!

[1]

Sources close to Apollo boss Pratap C Reddy revealed that he is mulling the institution’s washing its hands off the imbroglio in his written deposition to the court.

Jayalalithaa’s health was on the mend as is evident from our health bulletins. She could have left whenever she wanted to. Following this development, doctors from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences [AIIMS] and Dr Beale returned to Delhi and London respectively. What exactly took place during the last 2 days due to the activities of those who controlled the access to the CM is unknown. Police officials had kept all visitors – including the Governor and central ministers at bay earlier. Towards the end, even most of the doctors’ entry was delayed under some pretext or other. The alarm bells were pressed only when it was too late. The confusion over the time of death of the late CM, the leak of info, its denial and late-night confirmation of her passing are all indicative of the above aspects. Hence, accusing the hospital of foul play is out of the question.

[2]

Operative sentences: Sasikala was getting uneasy with Mr Panneerselvam, popularly called OPS, continuing in the post of the CM. The way ahead for Sasikala could be thorny. While she enjoys the support of the MLAs, many reports suggest that the cadre are not on her side. There have been protests against her in some places, especially from RK Nagar, the assembly constituency Jayalalithaa represented. Then, there are court cases against Ms Sasikala, which hangs like a political sword of Damocles over her head.

Author: haritsv

42 years' unblemished record of being an investigative journalist. Print quality journalist in 3 languages - English, Tamil, Hindi. Widely travelled, worldwide. Cantankerous and completely honest.

5 thoughts on “Has Sasikala incriminated herself irretrievably?”

  1. Dear Sir,

    Excellent piece on Sasikala becoming CM. As you have rightly pointed out, she hastened to occupy the chair, bearing in mind the legal problems that could confront her soon. If the Election Commission seriously is really serious in pursuing her election, she can be disqualified, as it will take a long time for her to complete five years of her membership, before she is eligible for the general secretary post. Sasikala has taken the former ministers shunned aside by Jayalalithaa into confidence. For instance, Nayinar Nagendran, Gokul Indira, Karrupasamy Pandian, would not have found a place, had she been alive, Even Sengottaiyan was purchased after offering him the coveted education portfolio. Saraswati, Udayakumar and many others believe in where the wind blows there they are strategy. It remains to be seen what Modi does, despite vehement opposition from Stalin, Tamizhai Soundararajan and S. Ramadoss. It seems, lurking fear was the reason behind Sashikala taking the recent step. Deepa too, is taking her own time, which is only helping out Sasikala.

    Thanks and regards,
    Venu

    Like

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