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There is chance of Sasikala becoming CM: Subramanian Swamy

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Sasikala Natarajan becoming the AIADMK general secretary was the party’s internal matter and she could also become the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy said on Saturday. “It is purely an internal matter of the party. There is also a chance of her becoming the chief minister,” he told reporters here when asked about Sasikala’s appointment to the top post in AIADMK. On the criticism that Sasikala lacked the political ability for such a big post, Swamy shot back saying what capability did Sonia or Rahul Gandhi have when they took charge of the Congress. Swamy, who spent a week at an ayurveda centre here, said the verdict in the disproportionate assets case against late chief minister J Jayalalithaa and Sasikala was expected to be delivered by the Supreme Court next month.The case against Jayalalithaa and three others for allegedly amassing disproportionate wealth to the tune of Rs 66.65 crore during 1991-96 was filed on Swamy’s complaint. The BJP leader said with the changing political scenario in the state, the Tamil Nadu unit of the party required a new leadership as also new executive and general council members, adding that the party’s January 6-7 national executive meet could take a decision in this regard. Later, talking to reporters at the Chennai airport, Swamy said mediapersons did not ask questions when Sonia Gandhi took over as the Congress president.On demonetisation, he said the intention behind it was good and welcomed initiatives such as the BHIM app which he said will be accepted by the people. Swamy expressed confidence that the Supreme Court will give its nod to ‘jallikattu’ (a bull-taming sport) with some riders and the order would be delivered ahead of the coming Pongal festival.He blamed some “foreign-funded NGOs” for creating an alleged prejudice against the traditional sport and added that he too had argued in the apex court for allowing ‘jallikattu’ by putting forth “strong grounds”.To supervise the safe conduct of the event, a committee may be asked to monitor the sport, he said.

I carry Amma in my soul, says Sasikala after taking reigns of AIADMK

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pledging to take forward the legacy of Jayalalithaa, AIADMK General Secretary VK Sasikala on Saturday asserted that none other than party founder MG Ramachandran, Dravidian ideologue C N Annadurai and ‘Amma’ will be given prominence in the party.In her first formal address to functionaries after formally taking charge as party chief here, she said the AIADMK will continue to be run in the same way as during the time of Amma when it was administered with a level of “discipline as seen in the Army”.It will continue to follow in the footsteps of these great leaders who looked beyond caste and religion, she said. Her assertion comes against the backdrop of some murmur of protests against her taking over the post.Heaping encomiums on Jayalalithaa, she said, “let us follow like Vedas our Amma’s political lessons and her footsteps,” adding “this movement (AIADMK) which was shaped up by Amma is a people’s movement, this is people’s government, our journey will be in the path laid by Amma.” She said the “yardstick” followed by Jayalalithaa for elevation of cadres in the party organisation will continue to be the same and “we will not diverge even an iota from it.” Hailing Jayalalithaa for her courage, she said the late leader had stormed the male bastion of politics that has given confidence to women. “Today as a woman, if I have come forward to lead the party, a very important reason for it is the faith that crores of brothers and sisters will support me.” She said “no one can fill her (Jayalalithaa) vacuum even in another thousand years.””I carry Amma in my soul,” she said adding “we have assembled here to guard the confidence of Amma that it will be the AIADMK which will rule the State even for 100 more years …she was everything for me and for us all.” Thanking party leaders for unanimously naming her as party general secretary, Sasikala said she humbly accepted it out of a sense of duty. For the first time she publicly spoke on the death of Jayalalithaa amid demands for a probe by Opposition DMK.Sasikala said she had firmly believed that the former AIADMK chief would recover. “Although Amma’s health improved that facilitated her shift from Critical Care Unit to a private room, she had unfortunately passed away.”It was not thought of even in my dream and it was like a thunderbolt falling on one’s head(when she died)”, Sasikala said, adding her only wish had been Jayalalithaa’s well-being.

‘Chinnamma’ Sasikala to formally take over as AIADMK chief on Saturday

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>VK Sasikala, who was appointed to the top post in the AIADMK on Thursday, will formally take charge as its general secretary here on Saturday, the party has said.The AIADMK headquarters at Royapettah here is being spruced up for the occasion with a dais being set up near the MGR statue to facilitate Sasikala to pay tributes to the party founder before taking charge.In keeping with the Dravidian political ethos of paying tributes at memorials of leaders before key events, Sasikala placed a wreath and paid floral tributes to Jayalalithaa at her burial site in the MGR Memorial at Marina beach this evening.She also laid wreaths and paid floral tributes at the memorials of MG Ramachandran and Dravidian ideologue and former Tamil Nadu chief minister CN Annadurai.Amid chants of “compassionate mother Chinnamma” by her partymen, Sasikala showered flower petals on Jayalalithaa’s burial site.With moist eyes, she placed a copy of the party resolution appointing her as the AIADMK general secretary at the burial site.After silently praying for a while, she went around the site during which she paused and touched it twice as a mark of respect.On her arrival at the MGR Memorial, Sasikala was received by AIADMK presidium chairman E Madusudanan, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker and senior party leader M Thambidurai and state ministers, including Dindigul C Srinivasan and Edappadi K Palanisami.They accompanied her as she paid her respects to the late leaders.Party MPs, MLAs former ministers and legislators were also present on the occasion even as a large number of AIADMK cadre thronged the place.Earlier, former Puducherry chief minister and chief of the All India NR Congress (AINRC) N Rangaswamy met Sasikala at her Poes Garden residence and congratulated her on being appointed as the AIADMK chief.

DMK seeks probe by sitting HC judge over Jayalalithaa’s death

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A day after a Madras High Court judge expressed doubts over the circumstances leading to the demise of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, DMK on Friday sought a comprehensive probe by a sitting HC judge into the death.”A comprehensive probe must be done by a sitting judge of the High Court and people should be told the truth,” DMK Treasurer M K Stalin said.Against the backdrop of the court raising questions, he said it was imperative for the government to come out comprehensively on the medical treatment provided to the former AIADMK chief.In a statement here, he said complete medical bulletins, video footage and photos of her getting treatment at the hospital should be released.Citing Justice Vaidyanathan’s observation yesterday that he may consider ordering exhumation of the body of the departed leader, he said “it is imperative for the government to release comprehensive information”.Stalin, who had earlier sought a white paper on the treatment given to Jayalalithaa, said there was no statement from the government ever since she was admitted to the hospital on September 22.He said the Centre and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam had a duty to answer questions related to the treatment provided for the late leader. Doctors from Delhi’s AIIMS too had treated her, he said.If the ruling regime had explained the “true (health) status” of Jayalalithaa and released pictures of her getting treatment, the issue could not have reached the doorsteps of court, he said.He recalled a statement of his party chief Karunanidhi seeking release of pictures of Jayalalithaa being treated and said, “had the ruling side not viewed it from the prism of politics, the issue would not have come to such a pass”.Only such activities has cast a “cloud, giving room for suspicion,” among the people, he said, adding it was the right of the people to know about the treatment given to her and the circumstances leading to her death.

Jayalalithaa’s death: Madras HC resonating voice of Tamil Nadu people, says DMK

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) on Friday said doubts raised by the Madras High Court over late chief minister J. Jayalalithaa’s death has resonated doubts of the people as health bulletins issued by Apollo Hospitals contained contradictory reports.”I think it (court) is resonating the voice of a people because during her entire stay in the hospital, no relevant or true information was forthcoming. Strangest of all things, the Tamil Nadu government did not utter a single word about the health of the CM, which was very strange,” said DMK leader Sarvanan.”Apart from that, the doctor’s reports are very contradictory. 10 news bulletins came, but none of the bulletins were signed by a doctor, except only one bulletin by Satya, she was the medical services director from Apollo Hospitals. Apart from that, everything else was issued by the chief executive officer, who was neither a doctor nor was he associated as someone treating Jayalalithaa,” he added.Justice S Vaidyanathan of the high court expressed doubts yesterday over the demise of the former All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam general secretary.”Media has raised a lot of doubts, personally I also have doubts about Jayalalithaa’s death,” said Justice Vaidyalingam.He was hearing the PIL filed by an AIADMK worker P A Joseph seeking an inquiry commission to probe the circumstances leading to the death of Jayalalithaa.”I personally find in case if I have doubt, I may order the exhumation of the body of the deceased and you have not told anything when she was alive,” Justice Vaidyanathan said.The AIADMK yesterday appointed Jayalalithaa’s close aide VK Sasikala as the party’ general secretary.In a unanimous resolution adopted at the party’s general council meeting, AIADMK members handed over control of the party to Sasikala.

Sasikala takes over Amma’s mantle, nominated gen secy

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>VK Sasikala, who was denied a party post all along by Jayalalithaa, was on Thursday unanimously nominated as the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) general secretary in the name of the departed Amma.Her nomination will be followed by a formal election at a general council (GC), but the die has been cast. Party seniors do not expect any other nomination for the post.The general council, which met at Vanagaram in suburban Chennai, was attended by over members, and nominated Sasikala as the interim leader till she is formally elected.Sasikala, as was expected, did not attend the meeting. Chief minister O Panneerselvam, who, along with senior leaders handed over the resolution to Sasikala, said she had accepted the request of the party.The council resolved that Jayalalithaa should be given the Bharat Ratna, the Magsaysay Award, and that her statue should be unveiled in Parliament. However, the focus was not on Jayalalithaa but her aide, Sasikala.Party presidium chairman E Madhusudhanan and former minister C Ponnaiyan were among those who spoke briefly on the resolutions. Ponnaiyan said there will be no contest for the post of general secretary.The elevation of Sasikala has come as a well-orchestrated puppet show, with her family members pulling all the strings in her favour. The Poes Garden will continue to be a power centre in Tamil Nadu, Amma or no Amma.At the moment, Sasikala is sitting pretty, having assumed all the powers of the general secretary. The next few steps would now be easier for her now that she is in full control of the party apparatus.With all district units, ministers and MLAs supporting her election, it is clear that her writ will run.However, on the day of her elevation, a shocker came from the Madras High Court, as a Bench observed that there were many unanswered questions surrounding the death of Jayalalithaa, which was a “mystery”. “The state government has failed to clear the doubts even after her death. Should her body be exhumed to know the truth?” they asked.Justice S Vaidyanathan and V Parthiban were hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petition seeking the appointment of a commission comprising three retired Supreme Court (SC) judges to probe into the “mysterious” death of Jayalalithaa.The Bench ordered notice to the Centre, the Prime minister’s Office and the Tamil Nadu government, and censured the Union government for not revealing any information on the ”mystery” surrounding her death.”Representatives of the central government visited the hospital. Counsel for the Union government claims to know the details of the incidents. But still the authorities have not conveyed or brought out anything to the people, for reasons best known to them,” the petition of PA Stalin, a primary member of the AIADMK, said.He referred to the precedent of the Calcutta High Court in 1999, directing the constitution of a one-man commission of a retired apex court judge to probe into the death of Netaji Subhash ChandraBose.Stalin also wanted the court to pass interim order to the state authorities and the Apollo Hospitals calling for all official and other relevant records and documents in connection with the death.The judges referred to doubts mentioned in the media over the death of Jayalalithaa.”After the demise, everybody has a right to question. I personally have a doubt,” Justice Vaidyalingam said, adding, “One day it was told that she is walking, another day you said that she will come out and suddenly what happened. Even with regard to the health of late Chief Minister MGR, a video was released,” Justice Vaidyanathan said.When a special mention was made by senior counsel K M Vijayan, advocate general Muthukumaraswamy said there was no mystery in the death. The Bench referred the PIL to the Chief Justice to list the plea in an appropriate Bench.On a day when Sasikala assumed control of the party, the observations of the bench must have come as a shock to the Sasikala family.

Sasikala – From video library owner to new AIADMK chief

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Always seen as a shadow of Jayalalithaa and never heard in public, V K Sasikala on Thursday emerged as her political heir to lead AIADMK which has had hugely charismatic figures at its helm in all its 45 years.Blamed once for Jayalalithaa’s disastrous election loss in 1996, the 60-year-old, who was a video library owner before getting close to the late leader, was always considered having a clout in the running of the party.Having accompanied Jayalalithaa to prison when arrested in a disproportionate assets case, Sasikala’s roller-coaster career saw her being expelled for anti-party activities only to be restored in a few months five years ago.
ALSO READ Sasikala likely to be elected as AIADMK General Secretary todayJayalalithaa’s demise on December 5 was seen as a personal loss for Sasikala who was a permanent resident of Jayalalithaa’s house Veda Nilayam in Poes Garden, even choosing to stay away from her husband. She continued to be by Jayalalithaa’s side when she was hospitalised on September 22 that stoked some controversies, including that access to the ailing leader was not being allowed even to her kin.Sasikala belongs to the dominant Thevar community which also is said to have played a major role in O Panneerselvam, who is also from the same community, becoming the stop-gap Chief Minister whenever Jayalalithaa had to step down and even after her death.An aspiring small-time entrepreneur offering video coverage services and allied products like video cassettes in the early 1980s, she got acquainted with Jayalalithaa in 1982 along with her husband M Natarajan through the then IAS officer VS Chandraleka.When Jayalalithaa was organising a party conference in Cuddalore in 1982 – a new entrant to AIADMK then, it was Sasikala who had got the event video-graphed. Similarly, she had got covered several of the party functions of Jayalalithaa which was the beginning of their association. Sasikala or ‘Chinnamma’ as she was later called remained a wall of support for Jayalalithaa through thick and thin over the next three decades.In her much televised 1999 interview Rendezvous with Simi Garewal, Jayalalithaa had said Sasikala was targeted much because of her association with her. She had even praised Sasikala as a “sister” who fulfilled the role of her late mother by taking care of her. This has been quoted by supporters of Sasikala to claim legitimacy to her ascending the top party post.As early as 1989, through 1990 and 1991, many relatives of Sasikala began actively participating in AIADMK activities and several of them were seen supporting Jayalalithaa in protests organised by AIADMK then.Sasikala caught the attention of media only after Jayalalithaa became Chief Minister for the first time in 1991.It was only in 1995, when Jayalalithaa declared Sasikala’s nephew VN Sudhakaran as her foster son and got his infamously extravagant wedding conducted did the clout that Sasikala enjoyed with the party chief come to the fore.Having graduated as Jayalalithaa’s trusted aide, Sasikala was also reportedly taking part in party affairs. She was jailed along with Jayalalithaa in the alleged colour TV scam in 1996. The relationship between the two also came in for criticism from political opponents due to Sasikala’s kin allegedly having a say in party affairs.Sudhakaran, whom Jayalalithaa had declared as her foster son, was later disowned by her and Sasikala’s husband and a host of other relatives also fell out of favour.In early 1980s, Sasikala’s husband Natarjan was a government PRO in Cuddalore with strong moorings in Dravidian ideology.After the rout of AIADMK in 1996, Jayalalithaa announced that she was severing ties with Sasikala and later in 2011 she was expelled along with her husband Natarajan and 12 other relatives. However, on both occasions they patched up and Sasikala resumed living in Jayalalithaa’s Poes Garden residence after assuring the AIADMK chief that she would keep away from her relatives.Their relationship, which saw several ups and downs, has culminated in Sasikala taking over the mantle of AIADMK general secretary to continue the political legacy of Jayalalithaa and MGR. ​

India: Madras high court questions Jayalalitha death cause

Court asks why the body of former chief minister J Jayalalitha cannot be exhumed for investigation.

Why can’t her body be exhumed? Madras HC raises questions over Jayalalithaa’s death

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>More than three weeks after the demise of former AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa, the Madras High Court on Thursday raised questions over the death of the former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and asked why her body can’t be exhumed.”Media has raised a lot of doubts, personally I also have doubts in Jayalalithaa’s death,” said Justice Vaidyanathan who was hearing a petition.”When she was admitted in hospital, it was said that she was on proper diet. At least after her death now, truth should be revealed,” Vaidyanathan said.The judge also went on to say that the court could order the exhumation and post-mortem of Jayalalithaa’s body, reported TheNewsMinute.A PIL has been filed in the Madras High Court seeking a commission comprising retired Supreme Court judges to look into “questionable incidents”, including her sudden hospitalisation, reported recovery and the cardiac arrest resulting in her death.
ALSO READ AIADMK appoints Jayalalithaa’s close confidante Sasikala as party General SecretaryPetitioner PA Joseph, a city resident, listed the sequence of events since Jayalalithaa’s admission to Apollo Hospital here on September 22 and claimed that the “secrecy” preceding her death gave rise to “grave doubts” in the minds of the people.The public interest litigation, which listed 12 respondents, including the Apollo Hospitals chairman, is likely to be taken up for hearing by the vacation bench of the court on December 29.The petitioner pleaded that the commission must peruse all the records, reports and documents in possession of the government as well as the hospital and look into “several questionable incidents”, including her sudden hospitalisation, reported recovery and the subsequent cardiac arrest resulting in her death on December.

Expelled MP Sasikala Pushpa’s husband attacked by AIADMK cadres, police complaint filed

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>AIADMK cadres on Wednesday attacked and injured the husband of expelled MP Sasikala Pushpa, who was accused of trying to create a law-and-order problem ahead of Thusday’s General Council meeting to elect a new General Secretary.While initial reports suggested that the attacked man, who was seen bleeding profusely, was Pushpa’s lawyer, police later clarified he was her husband Lingeswara Thilagan, who has been detained for interrogation.Police said no other person was injured.
ALSO READ Suspended MP Sasikala Pushpa has no right to enter party office: AIADMK AIADMK supporters rained blows on Thilagan, who had stayed put there despite being asked to leave, resulting in bleeding injuries on his nose. He was rescued by police who removed him from the vicinity for first aid, even as angry men and women were seen swearing at him.AIADMK workers started gathering at the party headquarters following information that Pushpa, earlier expelled by Jayalalithaa for anti-party activities, could come there ahead of Thursday’s General Council, possibly to seek an invitation to attend it. It was felt that she could even try to contest for the top post.
ALSO READ Sasikala vs Sasikala: AIADMK files a petition to quash former MP’s petitionPushpa had been reportedly questioning Sasikala’s eligibility for appointment as the new General Secretary, a demand being made by a section of party workers.Party spokesperson C R Saraswathy charged Pushpa with trying to create a law-and-order problem ahead of the General Council. “Sasikala Pushpa wants to create a law-and-order problem ahead of the General Council tomorrow. Let her resign first as MP as it was Amma who made her a Rajya Sabha Member,” she said.She alleged that Pushpa’s injured husband had deliberately stayed put at the party headquarters despite being asked to leave and it had been done to “create a problem”. “She (Pushpa) is no more in the AIADMK. In the General Council, only members are allowed and not even special guests are invited,” she said.On the violence, another Spokesperson C Ponnayan said “If someone enters your house and creates problems, there is a consequence– an action has got a reaction.” “However, we do not justify the violence as this movement, launched by MGR (MG Ramachandran) and taken forward by Amma (Jayalalithaa), does not condone violence,” Ponnaiyan added.Sasikala Puspha could not be reached for comments despite repeated attempts. However, she has filed a police complaint against AIADMK cadres for assaulting her husband at the party HQ.Meanwhile, actor Anandraj quit the party, in an apparent fallout with Sasikala.He said he has sent his resignation letter to the party. “I do not have any personal enmity with anyone. I was not invited for tomorrow’s General Council. Let anybody be elected as general secretary. I have sent my resignation letter, hope they accept it,” he told reporters.Anandraj had also been making some comments of late on the issue of Jayalalithaa’s successor to the top post. Without naming anyone, he said nobody should be compared with Jayalalithaa.”In the present situation, even a government officer is using Amma’s name,” he said, in an apparent reference to former Chief Secretary P Rama Mohana Rao, who is under the Income Tax scanner, and had repeatedly invoked her name on Tuesday while defending himself during a press meet.”Do not demean the soul of Amma by invoking her name. Do not misuse her name. Anybody is able to use her name. Please respect her,” he said. (With ANI inputs)

Watch: Suspended AIADMK MP Sasikala Pushpa’s lawyer attacked outside party office

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Suspended AIADMK MP Sasikala Pushpa’s lawyer was attacked outside the party office in Chennai on Wednesday afternoon.According to initial reports, the attack took place when four lawyers from Pushpa’s team had gone to AIADMK headquarters to submit a letterOn December 18, Pushpa had moved Supreme Court seeking a CBI probe or a judicial investigation by an apex court judge into the death of former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa.In her petition, Pushpa alleged that Jayalalithaa’s death was “suspicious” as her actual medical condition was not disclosed, no one was allowed to visit her, her funeral photographs showed embalming marks and everything, from her hospitalisation to her death, “was kept under wraps”. Meanwhile, though the Madras High Court rejected Pushpa’s bail plea, the Supreme Court gave her protection from arrest and on September 26, directed her to join the police investigation.A case was recently registered against Pushpa and some of her family members for alleged sexual harassment of their maids in 2001. The domestic servants, who reportedly worked at Pushpa’s house in Tamil Nadu, had filed a police complaint alleging that they were tortured.

V K Sasikala all set to take over AIADMK

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The New Year could likely bring new tidings for V K Sasikala after ruling AIADMK’s district secretaries rallied round the Jaya aide. The former owner of a video rental store is all set to take over as the general secretary of a powerful political party with 49 MPs. The General Council and Executive Committee of the AIADMK will meet on December 29 to elect Sasikala as the new general secretary of the party. Sasikala, rather than showing haste in taking up the party post, has waited for all the district units to adopt resolutions backing her leadership. Almost all the ministers are in charge of the district units of the party as well. Thus, it has been easy for the ministers to hold meetings of the party units in their respective districts and drum up support for Sasikala. Although this is an orchestrated campaign, the ease with which Sasikala has been able to establish a stamp of authority so soon, has confounded the BJP which was hoping to fish in Tamil Nadu’s troubled waters.Meanwhile, the BJP is apparently trying to force the AIADMK into an alliance for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls as a cushion in case it does not get a majority on its own.Facing the prospect of a reduced number of MPs from UP and Bihar, and fearing a backlash in the wake of the demonetization chaos, the BJP is forced to look at new allies to shore up its strength with an eye on the next Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha.The AIADMK, which bagged 37 out of 39 Lok Sabha seats, is the best ally for PM Modi in his attempts for a second term as PM. After 2004, the AIADMK led by Jayalalithaa had steadfastly ignored the BJP’s overtures for an alliance. An impression is gaining round in political circles that the BJP would like to do business with the ‘submissive’ CM Panneerselvam and not with Sasikala. Sasikala is expected to take small and significant steps to assume total control. Chinna Amma, as she likes to be called, will be a subtle replacement of the Amma.

AIADMK founder MGR remembered on his 29 death anniversary

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ruling AIADMK founder MG Ramachandran was remembered on Saturday on his 29 death anniversary with Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam leading the state in paying homage to the late leader. VK Sasikala, close aide of late Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, also paid floral tributes to a portrait of Ramachandran at the Poes Garden residence.Led by Panneerselvam, ministers, AIADMK MLAs and a host of party functionaries paid floral tributes to the actor-turned politician at his memorial on the Marina beach in Chennai. A customary pledge was also taken at the memorial in memory of Ramachandran popularly called as ‘MGR’ among his scores of fans and supporters. Panneerselvam read out the pledge which was repeated by his party colleagues.They took a vow to continue to perform their duties including establishing the rights of the state in the Cauvery water sharing dispute and also retrieval of Katchatheevu islet, issues steadfastly taken up by Jayalalithaa, who steered the party since the demise of MGR till her end.The MLAs also took a pledge that they would continue to abide by the high command of the party. At several places across the state, garlanded portraits of MGR were kept at public places and songs from his films were played as part of paying homage to the leader. In New Delhi, AIADMK MPs A Anwarraja and AK Selvaraja paid floral tribues to a statue of MGR, a party release said.MGR floated the AIADMK in 1972 after breaking away from the DMK following differences with its leader M Karunanidhi and rode his party to power in the 1977 elections. He ruled the state for two more terms in a row.

SC to hear petitions seeking CBI probe into Jayalalitha’s death

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court will on Friday hear pleas seeking a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe or a judicial investigation into former Tamil Nadu chief minister J. Jayalalithaa’s death.A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed by a Chennai-based NGO and a writ petition was filed by expelled AIADMK MP Sasikala Pushpa in the apex court seeking a CBI probe or a judicial investigation into Jayalalithaa’s death, who breathed her last at Chennai’s Apollo Hospitals on December 5 where she was admitted on September 22 with fever and dehydration.The NGO has sought the recovery of all medical documents during the AIADMK chief’s stay in Chennai’s Apollo Hospital for more than two months, while Pushpa alleged that Jayalalithaa’s death was ‘suspicious’ as her actual medical condition was not disclosed, no one was allowed to visit her, her funeral photographs showed embalming marks and everything from her hospitalisation to her death ‘was kept under wraps’.A day after filing a petition, Pushpa on December 19 said a proper inquiry should be done as the people of Tamil Nadu want to know the actual reason of Jayalalithaa’s death.”I filed a writ petition at Supreme Court regarding the mysterious death of Amma. Right from the day September 22 when she has been admitted at Apollo hospital stating that she has dehydration and fever and after that when it has been announced that she is dead till that complete judicial inquiry should be done. Initial enquiry is to be done by the CBI. The case has been filed at SC,” Pushpa said.”Tamil Nadu people, entire nation wish to know what happened to the late chief minister. The CM of a state has been foul played like this is a million dollar question. I just want to take this matter to SC to get justice,” she told ANI, adding that it was suspected by Tamil people that her close ally might have done something.”I could not get justice from the Tamil Nadu government so, I directly filed the writ at the apex court stating that we need justice and I have made Apollo hospital and chief secretary as respondents,” she added.

Madras HC quashes appointment of 11 members of TNPSC

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The Madras High Court quashed the appointment of 11 people as members of the Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission (TNPSC), holding that the process was “deeply flawed” and conducted without following any transparent process. A batch of petitions including one by TKS Elangovan of DMK had been filed challenging the appointment of these 11 members in a hurried manner by the AIADMK government.The vacancies for the posts had arisen from 2013 when members completed their tenure and demitted office and the last one demitted office on January 31, 2016.These posts were suddenly filled by a government order, dated the same day (Sunday/non-working day), in anticipation of the election notification for the state Assembly polls, which were ultimately held on May 16.The petitioners claimed that the Commission was sought to be packed with party loyalists “having no eminence and not possessing the requisite merit and abilities to function in the capacity as members of the Public Service Commission”. The First Bench, comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice R Mahadevan, in its 108-page judgment, said, “We are unhesitatingly of the view and conclude that the process of appointment of the eleven members of the State Public Service Commission was deeply flawed without following any transparent process and defeating the very constitutional scheme for such appointment, the result of which is natural, i.e., all these appointments are quashed.” The bench observed, “It is trite to say that from the very inception qualification of high moral values for the person recruited to the administrative service forming the very backbone of the nation was emphasised.””It is the selection based on merits. If this is the principle, then persons who are Chairman or Members of the Public Service Commission have to be equally, if not more, of such competence and high moral values as they are the ones who are conducting the selection process for the Administrative Service Officers.”The government, on its part, submitted that right to make appointment to the State Public Service Commission under Article 316 of the Constitution is left to the state government and the court ought not to interfere with the same, especially as there are no charges or allegations against any member. Quashing the appointments, the bench in its order said: “There was no comparative evaluation of merits, qualifications, administrative experience, competence or integrity of the pool of candidates. “The process was completed in one day, on 29.3.2013, and the file was placed before the Governor, who approved the proposal on 31.3.2013. No character or antecedent verification was really done and the issue which arose for consideration was whether the state could have said to have applied its mind to the relevant facts, i.e., suitability, competence and integrity of the candidate.”Thus, where the deliberative process suffered from constitutional infirmity of being arbitrary, the appointment had to be struck down, it said.”In our opinion, this appointing process or lack of it was on account of a misconception that the appointment to the post of members of the Public Service Commission was part of the spoils system based on the patronage of the state government and not requiring men who are ‘independent’.” “This lack of process appears to have escaped the attention of the Governor himself while making the appointments,” the bench said.Referring to Supreme Court judgments, the bench said: “It is an admitted position that there was nothing put in public domain to indicate that persons who were interested in this post could give material in support of their candidature and on our query, we were informed that the bio-datas may have been received from persons in normal course or may have been called for specifically from persons.”The bench referred to an apex court judgment which stated that the appointment to the PSC could not be equated with an appointment to a purely administrative position and in the context of appointment of a Chief Secretary or a DGP the question of Chief Minister of the state government having confidence in such a person may be a requirement.The bench said, “This would not arise in the appointment of a Chairman or Member of the Public Service Commission, as the Commission does not function at the pleasure of the Chief Minister or the state government, but has a fixed tenure and the oath of allegiance is to the Constitution of India and not to the Chief Minister.””In the case on hand, the bio-data alone was examined. Nothing was found to show that any background check was carried out to ascertain whether the Chairman appointed had come in for any adverse notice in a judicial proceeding or any police inquiry. It was, thus, held that inbuilt constitutional checks had, unfortunately, broken down.”

Sasikala vs Sasikala: AIADMK files a petition to quash former MP’s petition

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>AIADMK filed a petition in the Madras High Court on Wednesday seeking quashing of the plea by expelled AIADMK MP Sasikala Pushpa and her husband to restrain the ruling party from appointing former chief minister Jayalalithaa’s aide VK Sasikala as party General Secretary. The petition was filed by AIADMK Presidium Chairman E Madhusudanan.Justice K Kalyanasundaram adjourned the case to December 23 and directed Rajya Sabha member Sasikala Pushpa and her husband Lingeswara Thilagan to file their counter in the matter. Sasikala Pushpa and her husband had on December 16 filed the plea seeking an interim injunction from the court from appointing Sasikala against the backdrop of a chorus by partymen in her support for the top party post.Referring to reports in the media that “few party members” wanted Sasikala, called “Chinnamma” by her party people, to assume the top party post, the counsel for the MP submitted that the primary eligibility to contest the election for the General Secretary is that the contestant must have been a primary member of the party continuously for five years as per the AIADMK bye-laws.Sasikala was expelled from the party by the then General Secretary Jayalalithaa in December 2011. It was only in March 2012 that she was again given the primary membership. So far, she has not completed the mandated five years, and hence, was ineligible to contest, counsel for Sasikala Pushpa had contended on December 16. KM Vijayan, counsel for the MP, had submitted that AIADMK bye-law under Section 20 (2) says that the General Secretary should be selected by all the primary members of all party units. He further submitted that AIADMK proposed to amend the party bye-laws to facilitate appointment of Sasikala as General Secretary.Assuming the rule of “continuous five-year membership” was amended, still the “basic structure” for selection of the General Secretary by all primary members of all party units cannot be amended, he said. Also, as per the Societies Registration Act, a minimum of 21 days notice has to be served on the members for attending the General Council, the counsel said.AIADMK counsel B Kumar had then submitted that Sasikala Pushpa was expelled from the party on August 1 this year. “She has not challenged her expulsion. She has no locus standi to comment about the activities of AIADMK.” He had said AIADMK, a recognised political party by the Election Commission, was not registered under the Societies Registration Act. AIADMK was registered as a political party under Representation of the People (RP) Act with the EC, he had submitted.

Jayalalithaa’s supporters immortalise her with a 68-kilogram idli tribute

Late Tamil Nadu chief Minister J Jayalalithaa’s supporters continue to pay tribute to her, after her demise on 5 December. A group of supporters made a 68 kilogram idli, a south Indian delicacy, with Jayalalithaa’s face on it.

The 68-kilogram idli, was displayed at Chennai’s famous Marina Beach, where she was buried. The pictures of the idli went viral on the internet and Twitter users, expectedly, reacted to it. Much to the amusement of many, this was an unusual way of expression of love and support.

Amma’s supporters have always taken the bizarre route. Earlier, fans and supporters got themselves inked with tattoos of Amma on their bodies. Another supporter volunteered to nail himself to a cross demanding that Amma be reinstated as the state’s chief minister.

AIADMK claimed in its release that at least 597 supporters died out of grief upon hearing the news of Jayalalithaa’s demise.

The Tamil Nadu government, now led by O Panneerselvam, has declared a relief package of Rs 3 lakh to the families of those who died of grief.

First Published On : Dec 21, 2016 15:25 IST

Chennai: Income tax raid at Tamil Nadu chief secy P Rama Mohana Rao’s residence

The Income Tax (I-T) Department officials on Wednesday raided the home of Tamil Nadu chief secretary P Rama Mohana Rao. “The raids have commenced at Tamil Nadu chief secretary’s residence,” a senior IT official told IANS.

The raids at Rao’s Annanagar residence in Chennai started at 5.30 am. However, sources told News18 that no seizure has been made till now. Report also said that the raid was conducted based on information received from some road contractors who were detained for questioning based on previous raids. In a major shuffle after the re-election of AIADMK government in Tamil Nadu, Rao was appointed chief secretary in June this year.

The IT department recently seized a total of 177 kg of gold and cash amounting to Rs 96 crore in withdrawn Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 rupee notes and Rs 34 crore in the new denomination from three businessmen — J Shekhar Reddy, Srinivasalu and Prem.

The big fish is said to be Reddy, a contractor and who has done work for the Tamil Nadu government.

With inputs from agencies

First Published On : Dec 21, 2016 11:35 IST

Sasikala must resist temptation to be Tamil Nadu CM; sycophancy has to be timed well in politics

The rise of VK Sasikala to the post of the AIADMK general secretary in Tamil Nadu after the death of J Jayalalithaa wasn’t unnatural because the latter had never given any indication who her political heir was. Sasikala appeared to be the de facto inheritor as the party hadn’t seen anybody else mixing so closely with their leader.

The logic was simple: if there’s no “Amma” it must be “Chinnamma”. Politically it will work too, because reportedly “Chinnamma” has been handling critical affairs of the party and dealing with senior officers and ministers for quite some time. The other men and women in the party couldn’t have nursed any leadership ambition because under Jaya, all they had been conditioned was to plea, prostrate, and take orders.

But the new development, in which senior party leaders are upping the ante in Sasikala’s favour, is fraught with big risks, if not existential risks for the party. Some of the leaders now want her not just as party general secretary, but also as the chief minister. According to them, the legacy of Jayalalithaa should not stop with the top party post, but should extend to the head of the office too.

The state revenue minister RB Udayakumar, supported by a few others, openly appealed to her to take on the chief minister’s job as well. Udayakumar, who incidentally also heads a party affiliated organisation named after Jaya, said that all the 50 district secretaries of his organisation supported his proposal. Reportedly, such requests are also coming in from various district units of AIADMK and other affiliate associations as resolutions, and leaders from different parts of the state have been meeting Sasikala to persuade her personally. Sasikala has accepted all the resolutions, but hasn’t said anything yet.

Former Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalithaa and her aide Sasikala. PTIFormer Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalithaa and her aide Sasikala. PTI

Former Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalithaa and her aide Sasikala. PTI

Curiously, the demand for Sasikala’s elevation comes at a time when chief minister, O Panneerselvam, the only known Jaya nominee, is in Delhi. Panneerselvam went to Delhi to demand posthumous national honours for Jaya and to request financial assistance to mitigate the damage caused by cyclone Vardah. While he was canvassing for a Bharat Ratna for Jaya and the installation of a life-size bronze statue of her in the parliament, his party and cabinet colleagues are asking Sasikala to take his position. Panneerselvam chose to keep quiet when reporters in Delhi asked him about this development.

Is this a set up?

Clearly something is amiss. Either the opposition to Panneerselvam, which many thought would erupt when he was made the chief minister, is raising its head now or somebody is deliberately playing up Sasikala. There could be three possibilities: one, a group that is jealous of Panneerselvam becoming the chief minister for caste or power reasons wants to bring him down; two, the same group alone or joined by others genuinely feels that Sasikala alone can run the party and the state with an iron fist the way Jaya did; and third, Sasikala herself is writing the script and deploying proxies to act it out it for her. These three scenarios may be operating independent of each other, however the chances of an overlap cannot be ruled out because the script seems to be too simple and too straight to be true. Realpolitik is complex and treacherous.

Whatever be the motive, Sasikala becoming the chief minister will be a big, strategic mistake. The first and, probably, the last folly, if she ever succumbs to the temptation.

Sasikala’s rise to the top of the party would keep her within the party and would let her control it with all the efficiency and sagacity she has; but becoming the de facto executive head of a state with constitutional obligations is an entirely different ballgame. She may have had some reasonable exposure with ministers and senior officers being Jaya’s confidante, but that was, at best, the role of an extra-constitutional proxy. Real rule comes with real roles and accountability, while proxy rule rides on somebody else’s accountability.

Being a chief minister, particularly that of the second largest economy in India which is one of the top FDI destinations, an aspiring welfare state, and home to a number of consular offices, is not easy. It takes vision, statesmanship, ability to wear multiple hats, and the skills of an official deal-maker. Even if one has all these qualities, it should be endorsed by the people of the state, not by party leaders. The template that Sasikala has to fit into is that of Jayalalithaa, who was an exceptionally tall figure in India. She had the knowledge, personality and skills to be a lone ranger and get things done her way. Therefore, if Sasikala becomes the chief minister she cannot escape unfair judgment by both the state and the rest of India. People will be more demanding of Sasikala than of Panneerselvam because the latter has a political constituency and hadn’t asked for the job.

It’s not a worthwhile risk because it can obliterate all that she has on hand now. Being the general secretary — as the legacy holder of Jayalalithaa — is a priceless gift that she should not fritter away by either being ambitious or being persuaded by others. The point to be noted is that even in dynastic politics, all those who made it big – whether it’s Mayawati, Naveen Patnaik or tottering Akhilesh Yadav – were people with both political and administrative skills. There are many examples of people liquidating a legacy because they didn’t have it in them.

Sasikala should be happy as the general secretary because that will let her continue her proxy rule of the state. She will be Jayalalitha by proxy. Having a pliant chief minister, ministers and even key officers will keep her as the real power centre. And the biggest bonus is that she can still stay behind the scenes.

If she indeed has chief ministerial aspirations, probably she should use this period to build an appropriate public persona around her emerging cult and do a calibrated soft launch while keeping her relatives as far away as possible. As Jayalalithaa used to say, “Makkal Theerpae Mahesan Theerpu” (Voice of the people is the voice of God). Unless she gets there, there is no long term future or political safety. In politics, sycophancy and cultism do work, but they have to be timed well. Those big posters of Sasikala that one sees in Chennai and elsewhere in the state don’t have any significance, except an implicit plan in the making, as of now.

First Published On : Dec 20, 2016 11:31 IST

AIADMK leaders want Sasikala to become Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, lead party

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A host of senior AIADMK functionaries on Sunday called on former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa’s aide VK Sasikala and urged her to take on the mantle of both the party and the state government as general secretary and Chief Minister respectively.Days after the demise of Jayalalithaa, top AIADMK leaders, including Chief Minister O Panneerselvam and Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker M Thambidurai had urged Sasikala to become the party General Secretary, a post held by ‘Amma’ all her life.Against this background, the functionaries wanted Sasikala, called “Chinnamma” (younger amma) by AIADMK workers to not only lead the party, but also the government.
ALSO READ Sasikala names baby girl named after JayalalithaaJayalalithaa Peravai, a wing of the ruling AIADMK, had earlier in the day passed a resolution urging Sasikala to become both party general secretary and Chief Minister by contesting from RK Nagar constituency here, which was represented by late Jayalalithaa.Peravai Secretary RB Udhayakumar who is also the Tamil Nadu Revenue Minister, handed over the resolution titled “Thai Thanta Varam,” (Sasikala is a boon granted by Amma) to Sasikala, urging her to take the responsibilities of both the party and the government.
ALSO READ Wrong to nominate ‘Chinnamma’ as AIADMK gen secy, she tried to kill Jayalalithaa: Sasikala Pushpa”Besides guarding AIADMK, Chinnamma should fight the RK Nagar bypoll (now vacant due to the death of Jayalalithaa) and assume responsibility as Chief Minister, and lead the Amma’s government,” Udhayakumar had told reporters.Information Minister Kadambur Raju and Endowments Minister Sevoor S Ramachandran, who are also Peravai functionaries,were among 50 Peravai members who called on Sasikala, along with Udhaya Kumar.
ALSO READ Jayalalithaa’s aide Sasikala Natarajan to be party’s next Gen Secy: AIADMKParty cadres led by Tirupur Rural District Secretary, Udumalai K Radhakrishnan, the Housing Minister, also made a similar demand.He said “we requested Chinnamma to guard 1.5 crore AIADMK workers by becoming the party General Secretary and the over seven crore people of Tamil Nadu by becoming Chief Minister.” Radhakrishan said a resolution passed in this regard was handed over to Sasikala.Flanked by Ministers P Benjamin (Rural Industries) and K Pandiarajan (School Education) from his district, Tiruvallur East district secretary V Alexander said they gave Chinnamma a resolution adopted by their party unit, making this request.North Chennai (South) District Secretary and former Rajya Sabha MP N Balaganga, South Chennai (North) District Secretary and former MLA,V P Kalairajan,Madurai Rural District Secretary Rajan Chellappa, former Agriculture Minister, Agri S S Krishnamoorthy (Tiruvannamalai District) were among party functionaries who wanted Sasikala to assume responsibilities of party and government.They and district level cadres visited the Poes Garden residence of Jayalalithaa where Sasikala continues to live and gave her copies of resolutions adopted at their party units.Thambidurai accompanied Sasikala when she met the functionaries at Poes Garden.

Expelled AIADMK MP moves SC for CBI probe into Jayalalithaa’s death

Sun, 18 Dec 2016-07:00pm , New Delhi , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Expelled AIADMK MP Sasikala Pushpa has moved the Supreme Court seeking a CBI probe or a judicial investigation by an apex court judge into the death of J Jayalalithaa.In her petition, Pushpa has alleged that Jayalalithaa’s death was “suspicious” as her actual medical condition was not disclosed, no one was allowed to visit her, her funeral photographs showed embalming marks and everything from her hospitalisation to her death “was kept under wraps”. The Rajya Sabha MP has sought directions to the Centre, the Tamil Nadu government and Apollo Hospital, where Jayalalithaa was hospitalised, to disclose details of her health report and treatment in a sealed cover to the apex court.A similar plea was filed this week in the apex court by Tamil Nadu Telugu Yuva Sakthi claiming that doubts have been raised over the circumstances of the AIADMK leader’s death and her medical reports needed to be examined by experts.

Tamil Nadu after Jayalalithaa: Power remains firmly in Poes Garden, for now

Tamil Nadu after Jayalalithaa: Power remains firmly in Poes Garden, for now

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J Jayalalithaa is dead and her party cadre is jostling to dive before Jaya’s aide V K Sasikala and touch her feet. What does this mean for party politics and does it matter all that much when the real test looms – elections? As political parties circle overhead, Sasikala rules from Poes Garden and O Panneerselvam does what he does best – keeping the peace and turning down the volume. The circumstances surrounding Jaya’s death remain shrouded in mystery, her super-fans are livid and the final word on the

Sasikala Natarajan rules from Poes Garden / PTISasikala Natarajan rules from Poes Garden / PTI

Sasikala Natarajan rules from Poes Garden / PTI

disproportionate assets case – the one in which Jaya and Sasikala were jailed – is still to come. Narayan Lakshman of The Hindu and Nikhila Natarajan catch up for a chat barely 500 mts from where Jayalalithaa lies buried, in a casket that’s been locked many times over with gold plated keys.

First Published On : Dec 16, 2016 17:00 IST

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Wrong to nominate ‘Chinnamma’ as AIADMK gen secy, she tried to kill Jayalalithaa: Sasikala Pushpa

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Expelled Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) parliamentarian Sasikala Pushpa has said it would be wrong to nominate Sasikala Natarajan as the general secretary since she was expelled by late chief minister J Jayalalithaa for conspiring against her.”It would too wrong to nominate Sasikala Natarjan as the general secretary of the party. Because nowhere madam (Jayalalithaa) has mentioned her name. She has not even given her a councillor or an MLA seat. It shows that political life is not fit for her. She was earlier expelled by Amma for conspiring against her and trying to kill her,” Pushpa told ANI.By citing a by-law of the AIADMK, Pushpa said, “There is a rule in Class-30 sub clause-5 that a person being a primary member for five consecutive years can contest the elections. However, if this is implied, then, Sasikala is not fit to be the general secretary.”Pushpa demanded a judicial inquiry into the death of Jayalalithaa “since the time she was admitted into the hospital, there was no transparency about the status of her health.””What happened to Jayalalithaa is something everybody is questioning. Even the cadres feel the same,” she added.Sasikala said she has filed a case in the Madras High Court stating that the election of general secretary of the AAIDMK be done in a democratic manner.The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) on Thursday said Sasikala Natarajan, the confidante of Jayalalithaa, will be the party’s next general secretary. “It is clear that Chinnamma (Sasikala) will be the next general secretary of the party,” said AIADMK spokesperson C Ponnaiyan.

Jayalalithaa’s aide Sasikala Natarajan to be party’s next Gen Secy: AIADMK

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>J Jayalalithaa’s close aide Sasikala Natarajan, who remained a wall of support for the former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister through thick and thin, will be the new chief of All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AlADMK), the party said.”It is clear that Chinnamma (Sasikala) will be the next Gen Secretary of party,” AIADMK Spokesperson C Ponnaiyan told ANI.Several AIADMK functionaries from various districts had earlier urged Sasikala to lead the party on the path shown by Jayalalithaa.After Jayalalithaa’s death, 59-year-old Sasikala was seen prominently by her stand, intermittently standing up and touching Jayalalithaa’s face at Rajaji Hall where the late chief minister’s body was kept in state. Sasikala also performed the last rites at the Marina Beach where Jayalalithaa was buried beside her mentor MGR. Last week, strongly backing Sasikala, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam had said she should become general secretary and lead the AIADMK.
ALSO READ Petition filed in SC seeking Centre to probe Jaya deathHe said Sasikala shared Jayalalithaa’s grief, she lived with her as her trusted aide and was like a sister. He said that she imbibed the thoughts and working style of Jayalalithaa by being with her for over 30 years. She lived like Jayalalithaa’s shadow “till Amma’s death,” he added.

DMK, AIADMK in catch 22 over leadership issue

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Both the AIADMK and the DMK are in a piquant situation — have to amend the party constitution to elevate Sasikala and Karunanidhi’s son Stalin respectively for them to play a larger and key role. Senior AIADMK leaders including Chief Minister o Panneerselvam and his cabinet colleagues (most of whom double up as secretaries of the party’s district units) have urged Jayalalithaa’s aide V K Sasikala to take over the post of general secretary hitherto held by Jayalalithaa.In the last three days, they have met Sasikala often to press their demand so as to keep the party together. Panneerselvam has even given a statement asking her to lead the party as it required ‘military Discipline” and she knew the nuances of political moves to counter the opposition.A problem which the party has to surmount is the Constitution — Section 30 (5) of the AIADMK Rules and Regulations stipulates : Those who want to contest for the post of office beaers of the organisation should have been member of the party for five years without any break’. In December 2011, Sasikala and her close relatives as also her husband M Natarajan, were expelled from the AIADMK by Jayalalithaa. Sasikala was also asked to leave the Poe’s Garden residence of Jayalalithaa. It was only in April 2012 that Jayalalithaa took Sasikala back into the Garden.Though the date of her re-admission into the party is not known, it is possible that this too must have been in April 2012. Since it is only a little over four years since the re-entry of Sasikala, technically she cannot be considered for any post. Therefore, when the party general Council meets in April as is likely, it would have to amend the Constitution to reduce this period from five to four years or the Executive Committee can pass a resolution, making out a special case for Sasikala and get it ratified by the General Council later. Similarly, an amendment would be required to create a new post for Sasikala in case she opts for a post like Joint General Secretary or Additional General Secretary.Sasikala has so far not given any indication to the party leaders about her response to their request. Perhaps, all the district units and general Council members may be asked to sign a memorandum containing their request to Sasikala — for her to be sure of near–unanimous support, and to ensure it is a smooth affair. Meanwhile, the main opposition DMK is also grappling with legal and technical issues to elevate Stalin. While Stalin’s supporters have been urging his father to make him party President so as to inject some energy into the party, Karunanidhi seems to be reluctant to part with his own post . Karunanidhi realises that the moment he gives up the post of president, he would get sidelined. At the same time, he needs to give more importance to Stalin in order to get work done and to build the party.Those close to Karunanidhi have suggested that the post of a Working President be created for Stalin, which would ensure that Karunanidhi remains the President, even while meeting Stalin supporters half-way.The DMK has convened a meeting of its General Council on December 20. Although the agenda is not known, the elevation of Stalin is on the cards. The party needs the General Council to adopt a resolution and amend the Constitution to pave the way for Stalin. The AIADMK and the DMK are running on a parallel track these last few months. The leaders of both parties were hospitalized one after the other. Both parties are also facing the need to find new leadership. While AIADMK lost its leader, Karunanidhi needs rest.

Cyclone Vardah: O Panneerselvam survives the storm with the right political optics

In his first week as third time chief minister, O Panneerselvam has impressed. It helped that expectations from him were very low. For a government known for its opacity, the fact that the AIADMK dispensation found a voice and communicated effectively in the run-up to Cyclone Vardah and through it, was commendable. All forms of social media were extensively used to ensure the messaging reached far and wide.

Once it was clear that the cyclone was headed towards north of Chennai and not between Kakinada and Nellore in Andhra Pradesh as it was initially predicted, work on warning people began 24 hours before 12 December. The first advisory asked people to stay indoors. Experience in other cities like Hyderabad during the 2016 floods and Visakhapatnam during the 2014 ‘Cyclone Hudhud’ has shown human misery can be minimised to a great extent by ensuring citizens did not venture outdoors. It was also ensured that those living in the low-lying areas were moved to safer locations and vigil posted on the Marina to keep an eye on any fishermen who tried to venture into the sea.

Area-wise groups were created on Whatsapp by the Chennai police, the city corporation and even some MLAs to disseminate information on real time basis. The Tamil Nadu State Disaster Management Authority used its Twitter handle to keep a two-way communication going, informing people about the movement of Cyclone Vardah and asking people to send information about blockades and uprooting of trees in their areas. Electricity minister Thangamani was giving updates on when power will be restored in Chennai. Amma Canteens were kept open to serve food, free of cost.

File image of O Panneerselvam. PTIFile image of O Panneerselvam. PTI

File image of O Panneerselvam. PTI

The Tamil Nadu Public Relations department also was putting out information about what its ministers and bureaucrats were doing to tackle the devastation caused by the cyclone. Photographs of Panneerselvam at review meetings and distributing relief material were shared. As did the AIADMK twitter handle, which focused on reaching out to people in distress rather than scoring political brownie points.

Disaster management expert WG Prasanna Kumar says the government’s response was effective. “Northeast monsoon increasingly throws these challenges. Regular preparatory drill is a must. Chennai, in the long run, needs effective community-based disaster risk reduction management system where local communities along with local bodies should be able to alert and support each other,” says Prasanna Kumar.

Contrast this with December last year, when Jayalalithaa was at the helm of affairs. Barring the Chennai municipal commissioner who was drafted to be the face of the government and defend it, the political administration was clueless and completely absent. AIADMK spokespersons tried every trick in the book to ensure the buck did not stop with Poes Garden, even suggesting that it was because of Amma that Chennai was not devastated.

The distribution of relief material was largely a private affair, with several citizens including film stars, pitching in as volunteers. But overenthusiastic AIADMK cadre stopped several vehicles carrying relief material and allegedly pasted photographs of Jayalalithaa on the packets containing food, water, medicines, blankets and so on. That left a bad taste in the mouth.

AIADMK paid the price for this crass behaviour. In several localities of Chennai, the anger against the AIADMK representatives was so much they many were booed away after they made an appearance after the waters had receded. The people of Chennai showed their anger on the EVM in May this year, when 10 of the 16 AIADMK candidates in the Chennai constituencies lost.

But it is not as if the response to Cyclone Vardah was perfect. The AIADMK leadership was still in mourning after former chief minister Jayalalithaa’s demise on 5 December. And till Saturday, it was obsessed more with requesting Sasikala to take over the reins of the party as the next general secretary.

Chennai-based social activist Chandramohan points out that the city would not have lost more than 500 trees if the Corporation had planned for a stormy and wet December. “Common sense would suggest that when a cyclone approaches with over 100 kilometres per hour speed, the best way to deal with it is by trimming as many trees as you can so they do not get uprooted in the manner so many have in Chennai,” says Chandramohan.

Given that the cyclones frequently ravage the Andhra and Tamil Nadu coast, Vishakhapatnam and its experience with Cyclone Hudhud should be a template. A centralised control room that branches out to disseminate information to people, media and other agencies is critical to keep losses to the minimum. It will take several years for Chennai to replace the kind of green cover it has lost to Cyclone Vardah. Fortunately, human loss was kept low, unlike last December, when over 500 people were killed.

The sight of Chennai airport going under water each time the city faces rain fury is terrible advertisement for a metropolis. It urgently needs to ensure against flooding of the runway so that unless visibility is very low, the airport can still be operational. Last December saw Chennai airport cut off for close to a week, this year, the closure will be for a shorter period.

Chennai on Tuesday morning is picking up the pieces. It is a city ravaged with streets lined with uprooted trees, smashed cars, broken windowpanes and blown away hoardings. Life will return to normal soon but hopefully it has learnt its lessons and will better its response the next time a system in the Indian Ocean decides to test it.

First Published On : Dec 13, 2016 12:31 IST

470 people died of grief following Jayalalithaa’s demise: AIADMK

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) on Sunday said that a total of 470 people have died so far of grief and shock following the death of former chief minister J. Jayalalithaa.”Total 470 people died, unable to bear death of Puratchi Thalaivi Amma, Rs. 3 lakh aid will be given to each families,” the AIADMK tweeted.Earlier, the party had announced Rs. 50,000 for a party functionary, who allegedly attempted self-immolation and a similar amount to another person, who chopped his finger following Jayalalithaas’s demise on December 5.

‘Chinna-Amma’ Sasikala fit to lead party: AIADMK

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Asserting that there is no difference of opinion within the All India Anna Dravida Kazhagam (AIADMK) over the leadership qualities of late chief minister Jayalalithaa’s confidante Sasikala Natrajan, party member and Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha Thambi Durai has said she is a well known person who is fit to lead the party in its future endeavours.Nobody is against her (Sasikala), she is very well known person. She was the caretaker of Amma (Kayalalithaa), since the inception of the AIADMK when Jayalaithaa took over the reign, she stood beside her for nearly 35 years and is well aware of the mood of the party and people,” Durai told ANI.Durai further said that there is wide consensus among the cadres who consider Saskiala as the second-in-command of the party.
ALSO READ Through thick and thin: Sasikala stands beside Jayalalithaa as people pay homage”We are calling her ‘Chinnamma’ (small amma), it means she is recognised as next to Amma (Jayalaithaa). It is a well known fact and there is no difference of opinion among the cadres of the party, therefore she is fit and able person to lead the party now,” he added.Senior functionaries of the AIADMK on Saturday met Sasikala requesting her to lead the party.AIADMK spokesperson C. Ponnaiyan said the party would have a new general secretary soon and a decision in this regard would be unanimous.Rumours are doing rounds that if the decision is unanimous, then Sasikala would assume the role of new party chief.Jayalalithaa who passed away on Monday evening after suffering cardiac arrest was the party’s general secretary from 1989 to 2016.

Sasikala uses the power of the Garden in Tamil Nadu

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A garden can be green, full of trees and flowers, with softness and fragrance all around. But in Tamil Nadu, the Garden is the epicentre of power – at least as far as the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) is concerned.Late MGR’s house, Ramavaram Thottam (garden), was a massive power centre for a decade. For nearly 30 years, Jayalalithaa’s residence in Chennai, the Poes Thottam (Poes Garden) has remained a power centre. For her aide, Sasikala, the biggest political weapon today is the Garden and the absolute power it wields over the cabinet and the AIADMK.In the last three days, Chief Minister O Paneerselvam, his cabinet colleagues and senior party functionaries have been making a beeline to the Garden every morning to hold discussions with Sasikala.Decisions have been taken here in the last three days. Some opposition parties have raised the issue of propriety and whether the state was being ruled by an extra-constitutional authority. AIADMK office-bearers and spokespersons on Saturday pooh-poohed such charges and said that there was nothing wrong in senior AIADMK leaders discussing party matters with Sasikala.AIADMK organising secretary and former minister C Ponnaiyan said Sasikala was a senior member of the party, and she looked after their leader until she breathed her last for nearly 30 years. He said Sasikala had sacrificed all that she had, to take care of Jaya. With ministers, party leaders and even officials visiting the house regularly, it is clear that the Garden is the real Secretariat and party headquarters.When Jayalalithaa was at the helm of affairs, she was largely inaccessible to most ministers and officials. Even the chosen few were mostly given instructions over the intercom. Sasikala would be the one relaying decisions to the party and to the government through a set of advisers to the CM. They would, in turn, inform the chief secretary, the home secretary and the DGP.This system continues to work even today. Advisers get instructions from Sasikala, they would pass them on to the CS, the DGP or the home secretary, and the files may be finally signed by Paneerselvam. Sasikala does not need any post to ensure that her fiat runs in the government and the party. Will she take a party post or one of her family members take over?For the moment, she realises that sections of the media and even some disgruntled men in the party do not take kindly to her. Perhaps, she would bide her time rather than show haste in grabbing a post now. She may choose the moment, after a few months, or she would keep away from all posts and still rule the party. It is said that she allotted party tickets to many MLAs before elections.There is one problem, though. Both Paneerselvam and she belong to the powerful Thevar community in the south. The Gounders, who form a significant chunk of the party, would want one of them to be the party general secretary. The Vanniars are a dominant lot in northern Tamil Nadu. The Dalits are quite strong in most parts of the state. Sasikala has to maintain a caste balance while filling up the posts.The party’s general council may be convened to elect a general secretary. One section of the party is pressing Sasikala herself to take up the post. However, she may put off her decision to assume an important post till the second half of 2017, when partymen may ask why not.Perceptions matter a lot in politics and Sasikala may wait to strike at the right time.

Jayalalithaa’s followers must ensure that Veda Nilayam becomes her memorial, not Sasikala’s den

Following the demise of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, two pertinent questions about her relationship with Sasikala have been doing the rounds. First, is Sasikala going to be Jayalalithaa’s political heir in the same way Jayalalithaa had emerged as the successor to MG Ramachandran in the late 1980s? Second, is Sasikala going to be Jayalalithaa’s legal heir, to lay claim to all her property including the sprawling bungalow at Poes Garden, where they both lived for almost three decades?

There is a clear distinction between Jayalalithaa’s position in the 1980s and Sasikala’s position today. MG Ramachandran had groomed Jayalalithaa to become his political successor (though he did not say it in so many words) by appointing her to the powerful position of the political secretary of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK).

Jayalalithaa, however, did not become an automatic choice for the top job when MGR died as those opposed to her vilified her as ‘the other woman’ and rallied round MGR’s wife, Janaki Ramachandran, to assume the party leader’s position. AIADMK was split back then; but in the subsequent battle of ballots, Jayalalithaa’s party trounced Janaki’s rump to emerge as the flag-bearer of the MGR legacy.

It is in the fitness of things that Veda Nilayam at Poes Garden be converted into a Jayalalithaa Memorial. PTI

It is in the fitness of things that Veda Nilayam at Poes Garden be converted into a Jayalalithaa Memorial. PTI

In contrast, Jayalalithaa clearly had not groomed Sasikala for any such political role. In the last three decades that Jayalalithaa had been at the helm of the AIADMK and Sasikala has been on her side as a personal aide, Sasikala never became an MLA, an MP, or even an office-bearer of the party. Clearly, Jayalalithaa had wanted Sasikala to be confined to her domestic role.

In her now famous interview to Simi Grewal in 1999, when she was asked about the growing criticism of her proximity with Sasikala and the latter’s emergence as an extra-constitutional power, Jayalalithaa had said: “She is a much misunderstood, maligned person. And she has been the target of a lot of vilification and persecution simply because of her loyalty to me and her closeness to me…Most of the criticism has come from men, men who are politicians,”

“You see, it is impossible for someone who is in the thick of politics to run a political career and manage a household. But most men don’t understand this. Because they have their women at home. They have their wives or mothers to look after their personal needs. Now, for example, I can’t go shopping; someone has to do my shopping for me. And I have to leave at odd times. I have to leave in a hurry. There is no time for me to lock up the house or to see that everything is safely put away. I just can’t attend to these practical things. Someone has to manage things for me. She does all that,” Jayalalithaa had said.

Clearly, Jayalalithaa, in both words and actions, had envisioned a domestic role for Sasikala. And that was the case till her death a few days ago. But, despite Jayalalithaa’s wishes, the objective situation in the party has made Sasikala a power-centre. Both lived in Veda Nilayam at Poes Garden; anyone in the party or the government seeking access to Jayalalithaa at her residence had to go through the scrutiny of Sasikala.

It was inescapable that top ministers and bureaucrats met Jayalalithaa in Sasikala’s presence. It was inevitable that she listened in to any discussion on party strategy that happened in Veda Nilayam. That made her the source of all available information on major happenings in the party and the government.

The fact that she was privy to all the developments in the party and the government and that she guarded access to Jayalalithaa on a day-to-day basis made Sasikala the cynosure of all eyes in Tamil Nadu. Her ambitious husband and other close relatives made use of Sasikala’s unique position to make gains in politics and business.

It came to such a head that, on 17 December, 2011, in a dramatic move, Jayalalithaa threw out Sasikala and her kin from her bungalow. A Tehelka report had reflected on the reason behind the Jayalalithaa-Sasikala split:  “There is a perception that Sasikala, 55, is planning a palace coup and the Mannargudi (the place from which Sasikala hails) mafia are hoping to install Sasikala as chief minister. Allegedly, the disproportionate case that Jayalalithaa has been travelling to Bengaluru for – she is being questioned by a special trial court there – gave the Mannargudi group ideas. An unfavourable judgment or remark by the court and an orchestrated political campaign, it was felt, would have put pressure on Jayalalithaa to resign and hand over the government to someone she could trust.”

How did Jayalalithaa find out about the shenanigans of the coterie? The Tehelka report gives a clue: “According to an AIADMK insider, it was Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi who had alerted the lady in Poes Garden and warned her about the Mannargudi mafia…He is believed to have indicated to her that big investors were avoiding Tamil Nadu because of the extortionate demands of Sasikala and her family. Specifically, an NRI businessman who came to Tamil Nadu with a project had to shift to Gujarat because the Mannargudi mafia had sought a 15 percent cut.”

The Tehelka report went on to say: “Following another tip-off, Jayalalithaa sought independent medical opinion on the medicines she was being given. Without telling Sasikala, Jayalalithaa apparently went to see a well-known doctor. Her tests revealed, the story goes, that she was being given sedatives and chemical substances that had small quantities of poison”. That sealed Sasikala’s fate.

But Sasikala’s dramatic expulsion and subsequent return to the Jayalalithaa fold exactly a hundred days later is now part of the folklore in Tamil Nadu. That, despite all her apprehensions, Jayalalithaa had become too dependent on Sasikala to strike out an independent existence became all too evident.

Will Sasikala be able to reap a political dividend of Jayalalithaa’s such domestic compulsion? The developments in the next few months will make that clear.

But another thing cannot be left to the future: If Jayalalithaa has not willed it otherwise, Sasikala must not be allowed to continue to live in Veda Nilayam at Poes Garden. She lived there as an aide to Jayalalithaa; with Jayalalithaa dead, Sasikala should have no place there.

If anything, Jayalalithaa’s nephew and niece have a legal claim over the property which their grandmother had bought in 1967 (Jayalalithaa was just 19 then), but the fact that Jayalalithaa kept them at a distance in her lifetime would make their claim hollow.

It is in the fitness of things that Veda Nilayam at Poes Garden be converted into a Jayalalithaa Memorial, to chronicle her tumultuous and eventful journey in the world of cinema and politics.

It will also be a tribute to her – Amma to millions of Tamilians – that her investments in the city of Hyderabad and all over Tamil Nadu, her jewellery and allied wealth, are put to use for the benefit of those millions who loved her and whom, in turn, she loved all her life.

If Sasikala lays claim to all or any of it and succeeds in gaining control over it, thanks to her political weight in the current government, that would besmirch the reputation of a mass leader like Jayalalithaa. All Tamilians who love Jayalalithaa must not allow that to happen.

First Published On : Dec 10, 2016 18:53 IST

Does Jayalalithaa’s death signal the fall of federalism in Indian democracy?

The death of J Jayalalithaa, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu and supremo of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), calls for an assessment of her and the party’s political role in her times. AIADMK has always been considered to be “softer” on federalism, compared to its parent party, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK). For starters, the words ‘All India’ as part of the party name marks it out to be a party that while claiming the legacy of DK and DMK situates itself somewhat apart from that strain of Tamil politics that till the early 1960s had an independent Tamil Nadu (Dravida Nadu in its maximalist form) as part of its political programme. CN Annadurai and his DMK gave up this demand on Nehru’s request as well as the rising Indian nationalist jingoism in the wake of the Sino-Indian war.

J Jayalalithaa led the AIADMK for a period longer than the party founder M.G.Ramachandran did. Thus, the political programme of the AIADMK has a huge imprint of J Jayalalithaa herself. AIADMK has always been considered the party that grew out of Dravidian politics but went on to become a party of technocratic and welfarist governance where the Tamil nationalism plank was much subdued in iconography and rhetoric, compared to the DMK. However, such is the hold of Tamil nationalism, for which Indian analysts use the sanitized term “Dravidian politics”. On deciding the relationship of Tamil Nadu with the Indian Union, J Jayalalithaa’s political life and times bear a testimony to a commitment to federalism that may fall short in certain Tamil standards but more than surpasses much of what goes under the name of federalism in the rest of the Indian Union, in its conviction, consistency and steadfastness. An assessment of the role of J Jayalalithaa in Indian Union’s political space has to have federalism as the central axis in the light of which we will realize how important AIADMK has been to the rest of us — non-Tamils in non-Tamil lands. Very often, in the face of Union government’s steamrolling of state rights and grave assaults of the federal structure from New Delhi, the DMK or AIADMK government of Tamil Nadu has protested and stopped New Delhi’s anti-federal designs in its tracks when our own state governments have been muted at best and in a mode of groveling surrender at worst. For any non-Hindi state in the Indian Union, the stance on the question federalism is an important proxy about how much the politics and resource of a state are safeguarding the interest of the constituent ethno-linguistic nationalities of the Indian Union, and how much they are simply in on offer on plate in the service of the New Delhi establishment. Were they a voice of Delhi in their state or were they the voice of the state when speaking to New Delhi? As stated in the basic structure of the Indian Union, just like democracy and secularism, federalism is fundamental.

A woman walks in front of a portrait of Jayalalithaa, a former film actress and now head of the state opposition party, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), in the southern Indian city of Chennai March 2, 2009. India will hold a general election between April 16 and May 13, election officials said on Monday, kicking off a mammoth process in which 714 million people will be able to cast their votes. ReutersA woman walks in front of a portrait of Jayalalithaa, a former film actress and now head of the state opposition party, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), in the southern Indian city of Chennai March 2, 2009. India will hold a general election between April 16 and May 13, election officials said on Monday, kicking off a mammoth process in which 714 million people will be able to cast their votes. Reuters

A woman walks in front of a portrait of Jayalalithaa, a former film actress and now head of the state opposition party, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), in the southern Indian city of Chennai March 2, 2009. India will hold a general election between April 16 and May 13, election officials said on Monday, kicking off a mammoth process in which 714 million people will be able to cast their votes. Reuters

Ever since the transfer of power on 15th August 1947, the rights of the states have been continuously eroded. This has been done by continuous encroachment of the Union in state affairs, through legal and illegal methods. The favourite legal method has included constitutional amendments that have converted state list subjects into concurrent list subjects (thus giving the Union an upper hand in conflict situations), most infamously during the Emergency, when things as vital and grassroots based like education were snatched away from the state list through governments pliant and subservient to Indira Gandhi. Those changes have not been reversed. On the other side, there is not a single instance where something has been moved from the Union or concurrent list to the state list. In the extremely adverse atmosphere for federalism, against a unitary New Delhi that wants to amass power and reduce state governments to local implementation agencies for Union government policies, federalist parties (disparagingly called “regional” parties in certain media parlance, never mind that most of these “regional” parties have bigger support bases than most ruling parties of most independent countries worldwide) have always faced an uphill task. The difficulty of this task has been compounded by the fact that many “national” parties have state branches that are run by diktats from New Delhi and not by the opinion of the people of the state. New Delhi also plays a divide and rule game by giving preferential economic treatment to some federalist forces, so that a united front for federalism never emerges. This also reduces the engagement with the federalist temperament and ideology in these parties – jockeying for closeness to a “national” party that can disburse goodies becomes the principal aim. The sad situation of the Akali Dal (now the Shiromani Akali Dal), one of the original torchbearers of federalism being reduced to a BJP appendage that rarely barks and never bites, is a case in point. It is in this context that J Jayalalithaa’s contributions to federalism, has to be evaluated because it is not easy to do federalist politics in the Indian Union. All undemocratic lobbies like big media and big corporate money is stacked against it.

When the UPA 2 tried to erode state rights of law and order maintenance by its infamous National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) plan, J Jayalalithaa, along with Mamata Banerjee was in the forefront in the defence of federalism, calling out the violation of state rights that NCTC entailed. She put it succinctly, “There can be no uniform pattern in policing in the country as each state has its own distinct cultural, communal, social and economic aspects. Trying to intimidate and browbeat the states through top down structures particularly when ‘Police’ is a state subject is not acceptable. In other words, there are continuous veiled attempts by the Centre to weaken the states with too much interference which is detrimental to the national interest. Endeavoring to encroach on state powers either by creating parallel authorities monitored from the Centre or vicarious operations of state police powers through creation of Centre monitored caucuses within the states, as was envisaged in the Railway Protection Force, National Counter Terrorism Centre etc., to say the least, are contraventions of the constitutional provisions which accord the ‘Police’ priority status in the state list. The way things are evolving with the creation of the NIA and NCTC and the proposed amendments to the RPF Act and the BSF Act, we seem to be headed towards an autocracy consisting of a government of the Centre, by the Centre, for the Centre”. Its an alarm that is still relevant and we can chose to ignore it at our own peril.

Tamil Nadu is probably the worst sufferer of centralized powers of the Union government when it comes to economic matters. This industrial powerhouse produces huge revenue, much of which is grabbed by New Delhi, which then uses it to subsidize Hindi states as well as Afspa states. Almost 3 decades ago, J Jayalalithaa pointed out this undue suffering of Tamil Nadu and other Dravidian states which all suffer similarly in the hands of New Delhi as a Rajya Sabha MP as thus, “Where the northern states of India are concerned, whichever political party has been the ruling party in power at the Centre has also been the ruling party in those states all along. If no industries have been started in those northern states all these years, certainly Tamil Nadu or any of the other southern states cannot be blamed for this deplorable state of affairs. If no industries have been developed in so many districts of the northern states, that is entirely due to the gross inefficiency and glaring acts of omission of the governments of those states. Why should Tamil Nadu have to pay the penalty for this gross negligence and maladministration on the part of those north Indian state governments? Indeed, why should all the four southern states be penalised for no fault of theirs?”

In 2014, just one day after taking power in New Delhi, BJP went overdrive with its ideological Hindi imposition game plan. The Union Home Ministry passed a directive that said that officials of all ministries, departments, corporations or banks “should use Hindi” in all social media platforms. The directive said that Hindi and English can both be used but Hindi has to be “written above or first.” This slyly makes Hindi compulsory and English optional and is a naked case of Hindi imposition on non Hindi people. J Jayalalithaa, as premier of Tamil Nadu, wrote to Narendra Modi, protesting this. M Karunanidhi also lodged a strong protest. Faced with leaders who would call a spade a spade on issues of Hindi imposition, Union Home Ministry hurriedly issued a clarification that the order only applied to Hindi states. Time and again, Union ministries, especially those associated with education like MHRD and their agencies like UGC pass directives that seek to impose Hindi on non-Hindi people. In these dark moments of assault on non-Hindi people’s culture, language and identity, J Jayalalithaa has stood as a watchdog, often lodging the first protest and making sure that these Hindi imposition schemes are thwarted in her own Tamil homeland. These powers of MHRD stem from the fact that education was moved to concurrent list from state list during Emergency. In the 2016 Inter State Council meeting, J Jayalalithaa sent a note that demanded the return of education into the state list. The dangers of ‘Hindi-isation’ and ‘CBSE-isation’ of education in the Indian Union is a danger that was brought forth by the recent debate around NEET where J Jayalalithaa batted for linguistic equality, Tamil rights and for state boards.

J Jayalalithaa has on and off voiced support for a sovereign Tamil Eelam, though there has been good amount of inconsistency on this issue. One must not forget that the draconian Article 356 was imposed on the DMK government of Tamil Nadu in the wake of Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination and the AIADMK did not really protest the imposition of Delhi rule on Tamil Nadu. If at all, it supported it. Nonetheless, J Jayalalithaa has made important signals for the greater Tamil nationalist cause – signifying that the Tamil national identity is something that is not limited by the confines of the Indian Union. For example, she famously declared that all seven convicts serving life sentences for their role in the conspiracy leading to Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination would be eventually released. It is probably true that these stances came from the urge to cash in on the huge surge in anger against the DMK for their inaction during the Government of India assisted decimation of the Tamil national resistance in Sri Lanka by the Sinhalese Army. Still, these were important steps that make pan Tamil solidarity politics mainstream again. Till her death, she disallowed any sports event in Tamil Nadu that had the Sri Lankan team as participant. She showed time and again that in a multi-national federal union, specific state realities have to be taken account in terms of foreign policy. This is an important lesson for the future.

During the present regime at New Delhi, she opposed the coercive federalism being practiced by the Union government when it came to implementing the National Food Security Act (NFSA) or joining UDAY (Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojna). During her long illness this year, with O.Panneerselvam and bureaucrats in charge, the Tamil Nadu government chose to bend on both NFSA and UDAY. These are ominous signs of days to come and might explain the chemistry that Jayalalithaa-less AIADMK leadership seems to be developing with the BJP.

As her final stamp on the question of federalism and state rights, she dictated Tamil Nadu’s position on GST. Tamil Nadu not only stood to lose revenue, it was also a matter of principle since after GST is implemented, a state cannot raise its own tax rates according to its own fiscal and economic realities. J Jayalalithaa rightly saw this right to change tax rates and hence change revenue generation as part of the basic structure of the constitution is so far as federal structure is a basic structure of the constitution, unchangeable by the Union parliament. Which is why, in the Rajya Sabha, the AIADMK did not vote for or against the GST bill. They walked out. Before they did, the AIADMK MP A Navaneethakrishnan said, “I would like to humbly submit that this Constitution (Amendment) Bill is not valid. It is not Constitutional because it violates the States’ fiscal autonomy….Sir, my humble submission is that democracy and federalism are the basic features of the Indian Constitution. Now, this Bill violates the basic structure of the Constitution; particularly, it encroaches upon the right of Tamil Nadu Assembly to pass laws with regard to levy of taxes. So, it is unconstitutional…My humble submission to this august House is that the Constitutional Bill is not a validly enacted law because I am of the view that this Parliament, this Council of States, has no jurisdiction or the legislative competence to enact this Constitutional Bill as it violates the federal structure of our Constitution…So, now, the proposal by the Central Government is unfair, arbitrary, unconstitutional and illegal”. That was J Jayalalithaa’s will and opinion voiced through her party MP. With the demise of J Jayalalithaa, we have lost a voice that posed a fundamental critique of the state of affairs and the state of association called the Indian Union.

First Published On : Dec 10, 2016 17:34 IST

AIADMK senior functionaries urge Sasikala to lead the party

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The AIADMK on Saturday rejected reports of rift in the party and jockeying for the top post of General Secretary held by Jayalalithaa and said election will take place soon to choose her successor, amid speculation that Sasikala is the frontrunner.AIADMK Organisational Secretary C Ponnaiyan also strongly defended Jayalalithaa’s aide Sasikala, saying there is nothing wrong in its leaders, including Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, calling on her as she is a key member. “The party high command has taken a decision to elect a General Secretary and the election will happen soon,” he told reporters.The AIADMK twitter handle also issued a statement in favour of Sasikala.To a question related to state ministers’ recent meetings with Sasikala, he said, “Even if somebody (belonging to the party) met Sasikala Amma, what is wrong in it? Is she not an important member of the party? What you say is wrong.” Asked about reported competition for the post of General Secretary, Ponnaiyan said he had already clarified that such reports are just rumours.”There is no such thing like competition or problems…. There is nothing like this or that person competing (for the top post),” he said, adding AIADMK was a united party which has been built like a fortress by ‘Amma’.On a query about the role of Sasikala’s husband Natarajan and other family members in the party, he said “this is an unnecessary question. The party is led and guarded by over 1.5 crore members.”Drawing a distinction between government-led by AIADMK and the party organisation, he said at the party headquarters here that while the government was led by O Panneerselvam, the party was steered by elected bodies.”AIADMK is steered by party bodies, including general and executive committees and functionaries at multiple levels and Sasikala is a key member,” Ponnaiyan, who is also the party spokesperson, said.”Sasikala Amma lived with Puratchi Thalaivi Amma’s (revolutionary leader Jayalalithaa’s) last breath. Such questions are unnecessary.”Asked who the chief minister, ministers and other top officials are consulting by visiting the Poes Garden residence of the departed AIADMK supremo and if it is Sasikala, he said, “they are having a meeting with the Chief Minister there.” “It (Veda Nilayam at Poes Garden) is Amma’s house where Amma’s portrait is there…. We are in mourning and it is still not over. They are going there (also) to pay homage. It is not good to invent imaginative reasons for everything.”The party will soon elect a General Secretary who will guard the party and cadres, who follow the footsteps of Amma with godly devotion, and Tamil Nadu people,” he added.On the reported anger among some cadres against Sasikala as access was not provided to anyone to visit Jayalalithaa during her hospitalisation, he said, “It is a planned rumour and spread wantonly… blaming this or that person is a deliberate rumour.” Ponnaiyan alleged some people were propagating several “rumours” and “falsehoods” through a section of the media about who will be the next General Secretary of the party.”News being spread that this or that person may become the General Secretary are all only rumours. There is no truth in it,” he said, adding there is no “jealousy” or “competition” in AIADMK, which is like a fortress and stayed united.Ponnaiyan said AIADMK is an ideological fort with a boundless sense of unity and there was no room for questions like which person would be the General Secretary. “Only rumours are being spread and I am making this clear to you,” he said.He said though Jayalalithaa was no more, “Amma (mother, as she was fondly referred to by party cadres) continued to live as God” for them.She had built the AIADMK as a “big banyan tree” infusing discipline and a sense of unity, he said.Asked if there was a void in AIADMK in view of Jayalalithaa’s demise, he said “till such time the ‘atma’ (soul) of MGR and that of Puratchi Thalaivi guard this party, there is no scope for saying that there is a void.” On the claim that the absence of a second rung leadership was responsible for the present void, he said, “why should you imagine this? There is no such thing like an atmosphere of void.”In this party, each and every cadre is a leader. Amma made ordinary workers as MLAs and Ministers. This is a party of workers, built by them and this is the philosophy of Amma and that is being followed.”

No answer: AIADMK’s response to question on Jayalalithaa’s will

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>AIADMK said on Saturday it had no answer to whether its deceased party supremo Jayalalithaa had left behind a will for her properties worth about Rs 113.72 crore. On being asked if Jayalalithaa had left behind a will, party spokesperson C Ponnaiyan told reporters, “There is no answer to this question.” He declined to say anything further.The election affidavit filed by Jayalalithaa in April this year had mentioned several assets, including her swanky Poes Garden residence in Chennai. The assets were valued at Rs 113.72 crore, including movable assets of Rs 41.63 crore and immovable assets of Rs 72.09 crore.Asked if Poes Garden would be converted into a memorial, Ponnaiyan said it would be decided by the party high command as well as the general and executive committees. Meanwhile, Chief Minister O Panneerselvam and other Cabinet members paid floral tributes at Jayalalithaa’s burial site in the MGR Memorial Complex on Marina beach on Saturday.
ALSO READ AIADMK defends Sasikala, party to choose new general secretary soonVeteran CPI leader Nallakannu and CPI State Secretary R Mutharasan called on Sasikala at Jayalalithaa’s Poes Garden residence. Later speaking to reporters, Nallakannu and Mutharasan paid tributes to their deceased leader by showering flower petals on Jayalalithaa’s portrait at her residence. State ministers and AIADMK party workers paid floral tributes to Jayalalithaa at her residence as well as her burial site on Marina beach.

AIADMK defends Sasikala, party to choose new general secretary soon

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Strongly defending former Chief Minister and party supremo Jayalalithaa’s aide VK Sasikala, ruling AIADMK said on Saturday there is nothing wrong in its leaders calling on her as she is a key member and asserted a person would soon be elected to the top post of General Secretary.The party also dismissed as rumours and falsehood, claims in a section of the media about who would be the next General Secretary. AIADMK Organisational Secretary C Ponnaiyan answering a question related to state ministers’ recent meetings with Sasikala, said “even if somebody (belonging to the party) met Sasikala Amma, what is wrong in it?, Is she not an important member of the party? What you say is wrong.”Drawing a distinction between government-led by AIADMK and the party organisation, he told reporters at the party headquarters here that while the government was led by O Panneerselvam, the party was steered by elected party bodies. “AIADMK is steered by party bodies, including general and executive committees and functionaries at multiple levels and Sasikala is a key member,” Ponnaiyan, who is also the party spokesperson, said.”Sasikala Amma lived with Puratchi Thalaivi Amma’s (revolutionary leader Jayalalithaa’s) last breath. Such questions are unnecessary.”Asked who the chief minister, ministers and other top officials are consulting by visiting the Poes Garden residence of the departed AIADMK supremo and if it was Sasikala, he said, “they are having a meeting with the Chief Minister there.” “It (Veda Nilayam at Poes Garden) is Amma’s house where Amma’s portrait is there… We are in mourning and it is still not over… They are going there (also) to pay homage… It is not good to invent imaginative reasons for everything.”The party will soon elect a General Secretary who will guard the party and cadres who follow the footsteps of Amma with godly devotion and Tamil Nadu people,” he added.The party high command has taken a decision to elect a General Secretary and the election will happen soon, he said.Asked about anger among some cadres against Sasikala as access was not provided to anyone to visit Jayalalithaa during her hospitalisation, he said “it is a planned rumour and spread wantonly… blaming this or that person is a deliberate rumour.” Ponnaiyan said some people were propagating several “rumours” and “falsehoods” through a section of the media about who will be the next General Secretary of the party. “News being spread that this or that person may become the General Secretary are all only rumours. There is no truth in it,” he said, adding there is no “jealousy” or “competition” in AIADMK, which is like a fortress and stayed united.Asked about the role of Sasikala’s husband Natarajan and other family members in the party, he said “this is an unnecessary question. The party is led and guarded by over 1.5 crore members.” To another question on reported competition for AIADMK’s top post of General Secretary, Ponnaiyan said he had already clarified that such reports are just rumours. “There is no such thing like competition or problems… There is nothing like this or that person competing (for the top post),” he said, adding AIADMK was a united party which has been built like a fortress by ‘Amma’.Ponnaiyan said AIADMK is an ideological fort with a boundless sense of unity and there was no room for questions like which person would be the General Secretary. “Only rumours are being spread and I am making this clear to you,” he said. He said though Jayalalithaa was no more, Amma (mother, as she was fondly referred to by party cadres) continued to “live as God” for them. She had built the AIADMK as a “big banyan tree” infusing discipline and a sense of unity, he said. Asked if there was a void in AIADMK in view of Jayalalithaa’s demise, he said “till such time the ‘atma’ (soul) of MGR and that of Puratchi Thalaivi guard this party, there is no scope for saying that there is a void.” On the claim that the absence of a second rung leadership was responsible for the present void, he said, “why should you imagine this? There is no such thing like an atmosphere of void… In this party, each and every cadre is a leader. Amma made ordinary workers as MLAs and Ministers. This is a party of workers, built by them and this is the philosophy of Amma and that is being followed.” On alleged interference of BJP in the election of AIADMK General Secretary, Ponnaiyan said “these are rumours being spread for political reasons… ours is an independent party with independent views on matters.” He said such a line of taking independent views on all matters was established by Amma, adding that her working style and approach would be continued. Asked on whose command the party was being led now, he said “AIADMK is a party with duly elected functionaries. Hence the the question does not arise. ours is a united party.” He further said,”there is no problem. Claiming that there is a problem is an imaginative one.”

Jayalalithaa’s death: AIADMK says 280 people have died of grief, shock

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) on Saturday said a total of 280 persons have died of grief and shock following the death of J Jayalalithaa. The party has announced a sum of Rs 3 lakh each to their families as relief. The AIADMK also released the names of those who lost their lives.”Now 280 people have died of grief and shock over Jayalalithaa’s demise, AIADMK announces Rs 3 lakh compensation for kin of deceased,” AIADMK said in a tweet.Earlier, the party also announced Rs 50,000 for a party functionary who allegedly attempted self-immolation and a similar amount to another person who cut his finger off following Jayalalithaa’s demise on December 5.Even before the news of Jayalalithaa’s demise, a 65-year-old painter in Singanallur(Tamil Nadu) complained of chest pain while watching television news on Jayalalithaa’s health in his house. Before he could be taken to the hospital, he passed away.Similarly, in another incident, Palaniammal (62) of Thudiyalur, died of shock after watching the TV news in her house on Monday afternoon. Similarly, a 38-year-old load worker, Raja, collapsed on the chair while watching the news in Erode. Though his wife called for assistance, the 108 crew of emergency service declared him dead on arrival.The party conveyed its condolences to the family members of the dead.Jayalalithaa passed away on Monday night at 11:30 pm after suffering cardiac arrest and was buried with full state honours at the Marina Beach near MGR Memorial in Chennai on Tuesday evening.

AIADMK will unanimously choose new party chief soon: Senior leader C Ponnaiyan

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Senior AIADMK leader C Ponnaiyan on Saturday said that the party will unanimously choose a new chief for the party. Ponnaiyan told ANI, “Soon the party will decide a new chief to serve the people of Tamil Nadu. I think there will not be any election for this post.”He added, “The party remained united under Amma and will follow same in coming days. We’ll unanimously choose a candidate for the party.”New Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu O Panneerselvam, who assumed office following the demise of J Jayalalithaa, held a Cabinet meeting on Saturday at the State Secretariat. The meeting began at 11.30 am. Panneerselvam is expected to adopt a resolution to accord formal sanction for a suitably impressive memorial for Jayalalithaa. The Chief Minister is yet to formally take his seat in his office at the Secretariat. Panneerselvam took oath as the next Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu after Jayalalithaa breathed her last at 11.30 pm on December 6 at Apollo Hospital in Chennai. The oath-taking ceremony took place at Raj Bhawan.Panneerselvam served as the Leader of Opposition during the DMK government in 2006. He has previously held the portfolio of Finance in every AIADMK government.Meanwhile, several advertisements hailing Sasikala as the successor of Jayalalithaa in the party were reportedly inserted by a section of AIADMK functionaries in Tamil evening newspapers.

Too early to talk about BJP-AIADMK alliance: Venkaiah Naidu

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Union Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu on Friday said it was “too early” to discuss anything about BJP’s alliance with AIADMK in the new political scene unfolding in Tamil Nadu after the demise of its supremo and former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa.”It is too early to discuss anything (about alliance)… just now only last rites of madam (Jayalalithaa) were performed. Secondly, there is no election now. There is no alignment. There is no realignment also now. Let us wait and see …,” Naidu, a senior BJP leader, told reporters here. Naidu was responding to a question about the role of the Centre and BJP in the emerging power play post the passing away of Jayalalithaa, which has caused a huge political vacuum in the highly polarised politics of Tamil Nadu and thrown up several imponderables within the AIADMK.Asked if his describing AIADMK as a “natural ally” meant that it would join the NDA fold, Naidu said, “natural is the word used by a section of media friends. I have not used that word. I said there is an ideological affinity to some extent. This is the word I used…,”On some issues, he said, AIADMK was supporting the Modi Government and on some others, it was critical. “They are an independent party. We did not have an electoral alliance (with them). Whether we will have an alliance or not in future, there is a lot of time. This is not the time to discuss,” he added. Asked what role BJP has considering the “fragmentation” in AIADMK following Jayalalithaa’s demise, Naidu shot back, saying “Why should I talk about fragmentation, that is a figment of imagination. I do not know.”

Who will head AIADMK after Jayalalithaa’s death?

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With the death of its most charismatic leader, the question that is engaging the AIADMK leaders, cadre and others is who will now head the party after Jayalalithaa and whether it could be her close aide Sasikala.Filling the void may not be quite easy given the absence of a second line of leadership and the absence of any “heir” identified by the late leader, who had the party under her total command.An indication of things to come may be had from the fact that Chief Minister O Panneerselvam held two-hour long discussions with Sasikala, who is widely perceived to be a power centre in the party, more so after Jayalalithaa’s death.Sasikala’s supporters in the party claim that she should be the “natural choice,” for the post of General Secretary held by Jayalalithaa, not all others are willing to concede it. Her mentor MGR had held the post from the party’s inception in 1971 till his death in 1987. Sasikala’s supporters say that she had been Amma’s “aide, sister, friend and confidante,” for 30 years through Jayalalithaa’s “ups and downs.” With O Panneerselvam taking over as Chief Minister, she should be the “ideal choice,” they say.A senior party functionary requesting anonymity said, “go back in history and make your own inference if Amma’s loyalists and people will accept her (Sasikala).” He recalled Jayalalithaa expelling Sasikala twice from the party, once in 1996 after the AIADMK’s electoral drubbing and in 2011 months after the party wrested power again from DMK. Such factors had cast a shadow on her as a potential choice to lead the party, he said.He said Amma herself had announced in 1996 that she was distancing herself from Sasikala and her family to respect the wishes of partymen. Sasikala’s expulsion came against the background of allegations of corruption during the 1991-96 AIADMK regime. The DMK government had arrested Jayalalitha and Sasikala and filed cases against them.It was also in deference to a public perception that AIADMK was routed in the 1996 Assembly polls only because of Jayalalithaa’s association with Sasikala and her kin.In particular, the extravagant wedding of Jayalalithaa’s foster son VN Sudhakaran, since disowned, in 1995 as among the reasons for her expulsion.On December 19, 2011, Sasikala, her husband M Natarajan, and 12 others who were their close relatives were expelled from the primary membership of the party. Sasikala, who was staying with Jayalalithaa in her Poes Garden residence was also made to move out. However, on both instances, the expulsion was revoked in a matter of months and Sasikala made a comeback winning back the trust of Amma. Called “Chinnamma,” (Younger Amma) by her supporters she undoubtedly wielded significant clout in the party and continues to do so. The question is whether her role will be formalised now.Political analyst Gnani Shankaran said people knew that Sasikala was a “power centre” in AIADMK even while Jayalalithaa was alive. Asked if people would accept her as AIADMK chief, in the role previously held by Jayalalithaa, he said,”it would be known only during elections.” An AIADMK former Minister said, “we are not thinking about it now…we are in mourning…where is the hurry about all that…it is not something that can be decided by holding discussions with journalists or the media.” Without going deep into the issue, he said there are several deserving contenders in any party for any position.The question of who should be elected as General Secretary had to go through several stages at multiple levels like a general council meeting, he added. Coimbatore party workers said the western belt of Tamil Nadu (called “Kongunadu” in Tamil), “actually propelled” the prospects of party in several elections and it has senior leaders like K A Sengottaiyan and M Thambidurai from the region.While Sengottaiyan was a staunch MGR and Jayalalithaa loyalist, he stood behind Amma when she began piecing together the party after AIADMK founder chief MGR’s death in 1987, they said.Mentioning the name of Thambidurai, they said he was similarly a long-time follower of Amma, who was chosen by her for the post of Deputy Lok Sabha speaker like MGR did in 1985.Party workers from Madurai region including Theni cited names of “grassroots leaders” including Chief Minister O Panneerselvam’s name. Like the Western belt, the AIADMK has an edge over DMK in Madurai and its neighbouring districts given its core support base among the dominant caste group of Mukkulathor. Though there are other names including those belonging to the “old school” of the party like Panruti S Ramachandran, it is unlikely that their names could gain traction given the present party dynamics, they said.

Jayalalithaa’s assets: Without a will is a property war worth crores now in the offing?

Apart from the political legacy she left for posterity, former chief minister Jayalalithaa left behind a property worth Rs 90 crore and other assets worth Rs 80 crore at least.

According to a report in The Times of Indiathe AIADMK chief did not have a will announcing her apparent heir to her physical wealth.

The late chief minister and her mother Sandhya had purchased the Number 81 Veda Nilayam, Poes Garden property of 24,000 sqft area, in 1967 for an amount of Rs 1.32 lakh. But it is not yet clear if her political heir Sasikala Natrajan will continue to stay there, or niece Deepa Jayakumar and her brother Dipak may stake their claim on their grandmother’s property. Perhaps, like in the case of Jayalalithaa’s mentor MG Ramachandran whose house was stuck in legal disputes years after his death, the Chennai house too may be kept back, says the same report, even as MGR did leave a will, unlike Jayalalithaa, according to an Economic Times report.

Representational image. NewsToday

Representational image. NewsToday

In April 2015, the AIADMK supremo had declared assets worth Rs 113.73 crore, with movable assets worth Rs 41.63 crore and immovable assets worth Rs 72.09 crore. She declared an amount of Rs 41,000 as cash in hand, and 1,250 kg of silver articles valued at Rs 3,12,50,000, according to a Business Today article. She had declared commercial property and 14.5 acres of agricultural land in Hyderabad. And apart form this she had invested in five firms — Shri Jaya Publications, Sasi Enterprises, Kodanad Estate, Royal Valley Floritech Exports and Green T Estate, of which she was listed as a ‘partner.’ Furthermore, she declared that she had in possession two Toyota Prado SUVs, a Tempo Traveller, a Tempo Trax, a Mahindra Jeep, an Ambassador car of 1980 make, a Mahindra Bolero, a Swaraj Mazada Maxi, and a Contessa (1990 model), all this besides the gold that was seized in a disproportionate assets case against her.

The Times of India report has it that all of Jayalalithaa’s properties, barring her Poes Garden mansion and some inherited jewellery, could be attached to the case.

Her Chennai house was raided in 1996 by the income tax department, a year after she funded a lavish wedding for her foster son Sudhakaran, after declaring she would take a salary of only Re 1 as chief minister. The Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy had filed a disproportionate assets case against her based on the income tax report of having found 750 pairs of footwear, 10,000 sarees, 800 kg of silver, 28 kg of gold, 44 air conditioners and 91 watches at her home. Following this Jayalalithaa spent a month in jail and even vowed she would never wear jewellery again, a vow she kept up till 2011. In 2014, she was convicted again in a Karnataka court, according to a report by Economic Times.

Gold jewellery worth over Rs 6 crore continues to stay with the Karnataka treasury, and her shares in various investments also remain seized. Though the case against Jayalalithaa herself will abate, it would continue against Sasikala. “The case will have to be fought on merit, as a conviction against all accused was given in 2014, then overturned by another court in 2015, which we have now appealed against,” said former advocate general BV Acharya who represents the Karnataka government in the lawsuit. If it is proven that the property of the others accused in the case belonged to Jayalalithaa, they could be punished, and the assets seized, says a report by The Times of India.

Without a will, what follows under the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, is that her assets will be divided between heirs. According to intestate rules the second Class for inheritance based on matriarchal and patriarchal relations, shall directly inherit the property. Deepa was turned away from Apollo Hospitals when she sought to meet her ailing aunt, although Dipak, who was allowed to assist in performing the last rites, may stand to have a chance, according to an article by DNA. There is also the matter of once adopted son VN Sudhakaran, who was later disowned. However, Sasikala deemed ‘dear sister’ could have the upper hand, with all of the state government backing her.

First Published On : Dec 8, 2016 16:33 IST

77 persons died of grief, shock over Jayalalithaa’s demise: AIADMK

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ruling AIADMK in Tamil Nadu said on Wednesday a total of 77 persons died of grief and shock over its supremo and late Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa’s illness and subsequent death, and announced a sum of Rs 3 lakh each to their families as relief.It also announced Rs 50,000 for a party functionary who allegedly attempted self-immolation and a similar amount to another person who cut his finger off following Jayalalithaas’s demise on Dec 5. “77 persons have died of grief and shock after having to come to know of honourable Amma’s (Jayalalithaa) illness and death,” an AIADMK release said tonight. Meanwhile, a central intelligence estimate has put the toll at 30 besides four suicide attempts. The AIADMK release did not specify whether the illness referred to her September 22 hospitalisation or the cardiac arrest she had suffered on December 4, a day before passing away.The party also released the list of 77 dead persons, who hailed from different parts of the state. AIADMK expressed grief and sympathies with their families and announced a sum of Rs 3 lakh each as family welfare fund.Further, the party will also bear the medical expenses of the AIADMK functionary from Puthukoorapettai in Cuddalore district who had attempted self-immolation following Jayalalithaa’s illness, it said.Similarly, Makali of Ugayanur in Tirupur district had chopped off his finger after coming to know of Jayalalithaa’s passing away and the party will bear his treatment cost too, the release said. AIADMK also announced relief of Rs 50,000 to each of the two persons.

A day later, thousands flock to Jayalalithaa’s burial spot

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A day after she was laid to rest near the memorial site of her political mentor M G Ramachandran at Marina beach in Chennai, thousands of people from all over Tamil Nadu continued to make a beeline to the spot to pay homage to late Chief Minister Jayalalithaa.Teary-eyed party cadres and public stood in long queues to pay their homage to their beloved “Amma”. Besides, a group of people tonsured their heads as a mark of love and affection to the late AIADMK supremo, in keeping with the customary practice of tonsuring head when a close member of the family dies.Police personnel, who came in for praise from public for effectively maintaining peace in the city after Jayalalithaa’s death, were seen regulating the crowds.
ALSO READ Jayalalithaa laid to rest near mentor MGR, Prez, PM attend last ritesPopular Tamil film actor Ajith Kumar who had gone overseas for shooting of his coming film paid his respects at the burial site soon after arriving in the city along with his actress-wife Shalini.An emotional woman party cadre with a ring on her finger with a photograph of Jayalalithaa said “Amma” continues to live in the hearts of the public. Some cadres also visited ‘Veda Nilayam’, the residence at Jayalalithaa at Poes Garden.Some workers said they wished to see the residence of their favourite leader converted into a memorial as a mark of respect. 68-year-old Jayalalithaa, who died on Monday night, was laid to rest on Tuesday.

Timeline: A chronicle of J Jayalalithaa’s life

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa passed away in Chennai on December 5, a day after she suffered a cardiac arrest while admitted in Apollo hospital. ‘Amma’ as she was fondly addressed, had been in the hospital since September 22 after she complained of a fever and dehydration. She was later treated for sepsis and her condition was said to have improved before she went into cardiac arrest on Sunday. The last rites of the chief minister will be performed in Chennai on Monday evening. Biographical TimelineJayalalithaa Jayaram, an Indian actress-turned-politician, was the chief minister of Tamil Nadu and General Secretary of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) party. She was sworn in as the chief minister on May 23, 2016, her sixth term, a record. She was only the second female chief minister of Tamil Nadu. Her followers fondly call her “Amma”, meaning mother, and “Puratchi Thalaivi”, meaning revolutionary leader. Jayalalithaa was a famous South Indian film star before she joined politics in 1982.She had appeared as a lead actress in various films in Tamil, Kannada and Telugu languages. She even acted in one English and a Hindi film. She was elected as a member of the Rajya Sabha in 1984 and served in this post till 1989. Personal LifeJayalalitha was born in Mysore (now in the state of Karnataka) at a place called Melukote on February 24, 1948. She hails from a Tamil Iyengar family. Her father Jayaram, a lawyer by profession, passed away when she was just two years old. Consequently, Jayalalithaa and her brother Jayakumar had to shift to Bengaluru along with their mother. Her mother, Vedavathi, started working in Tamil cinema with the screen name Sandhya.
ALSO READ AIADMK chief & Tamil Nadu’s beloved Amma J Jayalalithaa passes away‘Jaya’, meaning ‘victorious’, was a prefix commonly used in their family — Jayalalitha; her brother, Jayakumar; father Jayaram, and many other in the family. This indicated the family’s association with the Wodeyar Dynasty of Mysore, which dates back to 1880-1920 when Jayalalithaa’s grandfather, a surgeon by profession, used to serve the Mysore Kingdom.Jayalalithaa completed her schooling from Bishop Cotton Girls’ High School, Chennai, and Sacred Heart Matriculation School, also popularly known as Presentation Church Park Convent, in Chennai. She was a very good student and received scholarship for higher studies from the Government of India after completing her matriculation in 1964. However, she took up films shortly after that. Her career saw her working in films of different languages, including English, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu.
ALSO READ RIP Amma | From PM Modi to President Mukherjee: India bids adieu to J Jayalalithaa She is a trained Bharatanatyam dancer and has proficiency in other dance forms like Kathak, Mohiniyattam and Manipuri as well. She has also lent her voice as a singer in some of her films. She has proficiency in English, Hindi, Tamil, Kannada, Telugu and Malayalam. Her brother, Jayakumar, passed away in the early 1990s. Jayalalithaa’s Disproportionate Assets CaseShe was acquitted in the infamous 18-year-old disproportionate assets (amounting to Rs 66.65 crore) and corruption case by the Karnataka High Court on May 11, 2015. A trial court had convicted and sentenced her to four years of jail as well as a fine of Rs 100 crore on September 27, 2014. Jayalalitha filed an appeal challenging the decision in the Karnataka High Court. These charges were held “not sustainable” by the special bench of the Karnataka High Court. Earlier, the five-time Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu was held guilty by a special court in Bengaluru in a disproportionate assets case and had to vacate her post as a consequence. The charges were levelled by Dr Subramanian Swamy in 1996. She was convicted under IPC 109 and 120 (b) along with 13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
ALSO READ Jayalalithaa’s demise has left a huge void in Indian politics: PM ModiJayalalithaa’s professional background before entering politicsAt the behest of her mother, Jayalalithaa started working in films at the age of 15 when she was still in school. Here’s a chronicle of her acting career:► Her first film, ‘Epistle’, was in English language and released in 1961.► In 1964, under the direction of BR Panthulu, she made her debut in Kannada film ‘Chinnada Gombe’ as the lead actress.► In 1965, she made her debut in Tamil film ‘Vennira Aadai’, which was directed by CV Sridhar. Jayalalithaa was the first heroine in Tamil films in the mid-1960s to appear in short-sleeved dresses, skirts, gowns and woollen suits.► In 1966, she made her debut in the Telugu film ‘Manushulu Mamathalu’.► Jayalalithaa acted opposite Shivaji Ganesan in the film ‘Pattikada Pattanama’ in 1972, which won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Tamil.► In 1973, she received three Filmfare Awards for Best Actress for her performance in the films ‘Pattikada Pattanama’, ‘Suryakanthi’ and ‘Sri Krishna Satya’.► The first Tamil film that India submitted for the Academy Awards in the category ‘Best Foreign Language Film’ was ‘Deiva Magan’. It featured Sivaji Ganesan and her.► The 1960s and 1970s saw a number of successful films with Amma opposite MG Ramachandran.► ‘Izzat’, one of her notable Hindi films, saw her paired opposite Dharmendra.Jayalalithaa’s journey in Indian politics► In 1982, Jayalalithaa became a member of the AIADMK, a party founded by MG Ramachandran. It marked her entry into politics.► She gave her first public speech, Pennin Perumai (the Pride of Women), at the conference of the party that year.► She was made the Propaganda Secretary of the AIADMK in January 1983. As was chosen by Puratchi Thalaivar MGR, Jayalalitha conducted her first election campaign in February, 1983, for the party as a candidate in the by-election from the Tiruchendur Assembly Constituency.► Jayalalithaa was elected for the first time as a member of the Rajya Sabha in 1984 and she retained the seat till 1989.► In 1984, MGR fell ill and moved to the US to undergo medical treatment. In his absence, Jayalalithaa came to the forefront during the elections to the Lok Sabha and the Legislative Assembly in Tamil Nadu in December 1984. That year, the alliance of Congress (I) and AIADMK secured a massive victory.► Puratchi Thalaivar MGR expired in 1987, after which the AIADMK was split into two parties. The election symbol of the party, “Two Leaves”, was frozen by the Election Commission of India.► Jayalalithaa was elected as a member of Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly in 1989 from the Bodinayakkanur constituency.► Jayalalithaa was the first lady to become the Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly of Tamil Nadu.► The two factions of the party reunited in February 1989 under the leadership of Jayalalithaa, who was unanimously elected as the General Secretary of the united AIADMK.► The election symbol of the AIADMK party, ‘Two Leaves’, was restored by her in 1989.► Jayalalithaa directed the Congress (I) and AIADMK alliance to a historic victory in the 1989 General Elections to the Lok Sabha in Puducherry and Tamil Nadu.► Under her leadership, the AIADMK secured victories in all the subsequent by-elections from the constituencies of Peranamallur, Madurai East and Marungapuri to the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly.► A landslide victory was secured by Jayalalithaa in the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly elections held in 1991, when the party and its alliance won 225 out of the total 234 seats. She contested from two constituencies, Kangeyam and Bargur, and won both the seats comprehensively.► On 24 June 1991, she became the youngest ever and the second female Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. She held the position till May 12, 1996.► She swept the 1991 General Elections by securing a complete victory for the AIADMK and its alliance partner INC in the 40 Lok Sabha constituencies of Puducherry and Tamil Nadu, thus creating history.► The 1998 general election of the Lok Sabha saw the AIADMK and its alliance securing 30 out of 40 seats.► The 2001 Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly elections saw her leading the alliance to a win of 195 seats out of the 234 and her party, the AIADMK, alone secured 132 seats.► On 14 May 2001, Jayalalithaa became the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu for the second time and held the post till September 21, 2001.► In February 2002, she was elected from the constituency of Andipatti.► She remained the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu from March 2, 2002 to May 12, 2006.► The AIADMK alliance won 69 seats in the 2006 Legislative Assembly elections and Jayalalithaa served as the Leader of Opposition.► Again in the 2011 Legislative Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu, the AIADMK and its allies bounced back, winning 203 seats out of 234, with the AIADMK securing 150 seats on its own. The new government was formed on May 16, 2011 and Jayalalithaa became the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu for the fourth time.► Jayaram Jayalalitha had to step down from her post of the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu in September 2014 when a trial court in Karnataka held her guilty in an 18-year-old disproportionate assets (amounting to Rs. 66.65 crore) and corruption case. The court had sentenced her to a four-year jail term with a fine of Rs 100 crore, but she challenged this verdict in Karnataka High Court.► On May 11, 2015, the Karnataka High Court acquitted Jayalalithaa in the Disproportionate Assets case.► J Jayalalitha was sworn-in as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu for a record-equalling fifth time on May 23, 2015.► On April 25, 2016, she filed her nomination papers in RK Nagar ahead of the Tamil Nadu Assembly elections.► She created a history of sorts by becoming the first chief minister since 1989 to return to power for a second consecutive term.► She took oath as the chief minister of Tamil Nadu for a record sixth time on May 23, 2016.Awards and honours won by Jayalalithaa► In 1972, the Government of Tamil Nadu honoured her with the Kalaimamani Award.► A degree of Doctor of Literature (LittD) was conferred upon her by the University of Madras in 1991.► A degree of Doctor of Science was conferred upon her by Dr MGR Medical University in 1992.► A degree of Doctor of Letters was conferred upon her by Madurai Kamaraj University in 1993.► A degree of Doctor of Science was given to her by Tamil Nadu Agricultural University in 2003.► A degree of Doctor of Letters (Honoris causa) was conferred upon her by Bharathidasan University in 2003.► She was invited by the House of Lords, London, in 2004 to receive the “Woman Politician of the Decade” Award from the Asian Guild Awards.► The Golden Star of Honour and Dignity Award was conferred upon her in 2004 by the International Human Rights Defence Committee recognising her services in protecting the weaker section of society and in the field of gender equality in Tamil Nadu and India.► In 2011, a resolution was passed by the New Jersey General Assembly to appreciate her exemplary excellence and dedication as a leader and in service to the people of Tamil Nadu.

Cho Ramaswamy dead: Veteran journalist, actor, playwright passes away at 82

Veteran journalist, political analyst and comedian Cho S Ramaswamy died on Wednesday at Apollo Hospital in Chennai, said an official. He was 82.

A former member of Rajya Sabha, Ramaswamy was ailing for some time and was in the hospital where he breathed his last at around 4 am.

Cho is survived by his wife Soundara Ramaswamy, son Rajivakshan alias Sriram and daughter Sindhu, report the Times of India.

File image of . Twitter @Trending_HypersFile image of . Twitter @Trending_Hypers

File image of Cho Ramaswamy. Twitter @Trending_Hypers

The body has been shifted to his residence in Chennai and the funeral has been scheduled for Wednesday.

Ramaswamy founded and edited the political magazine Thuglak magazine and was fearless in criticising the ruling government in the state or at the centre.

Ramaswamy had personal rapport with many politicians in the country. Late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and AIADMK General Secretary J Jayalalithaa was a good friend of Ramaswamy and used to seek his views.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Jayalalithaa called on him when he was seriously ill early this year.

A multi-faceted personality, Ramaswamy was a law graduate, a play writer and a stage actor. He has also directed several movies and was also a screen play writer.

Ramaswamy has acted in movies along with MG Ramachandran, Sivaji Ganesan, Jayalalithaa, Kamal Hassan, Rajinikant and others.

He was a member of the BRC cricket club which played in the II division of Madras Cricket Association (now Tamil Nadu Cricket Association) in the 1950’s.

Ramaswamy also practised law in the Madras High Court, 1957-63. He was a legal adviser to TTK & Co, group Companies, till 1978.

He has written, directed and acted in over 20 Tamil plays (which were performed over 5,000 times). he also acted in 180 movies, scripted 14 and directed four.

On the small screen Ramaswamy has written, acted and directed several serials in Tamil and has also written novels.

With inputs from agencies

First Published On : Dec 7, 2016 08:59 IST

Jayalalithaa dead: A reluctant politician, who made welfarism part of statecraft

One of the first dents in Jayalalithaa’s (her name is sometimes spelled Jayalalitha) popularity was when she held a conspicuously ostentatious wedding for her foster son VN Sudhakaran who was the nephew of her close confidante Sasikala Natarajan.

This was in 1996 and people believed this was the most expensive wedding ever seen in Tamil Nadu with its two-kilometre long illuminated barat route, ten dining halls which could accommodate over 2.5 lakh guests and elaborate wedding pandal that covered over 75,000 square feet. Each wedding card was accompanied with a silver plate, silk sari and a silk dhoti and is said to have cost over Rs 20,000

Sudhakaran was said to be groomed to become Jayalalithaa’s heir and was getting married to Shivaji Ganesan’s granddaughter Sathyalakshmi.

A supporter Jayalalithaa holds her photo. ReutersA supporter Jayalalithaa holds her photo. Reuters

A supporter Jayalalithaa holds her photo. Reuters

By today’s standards, the wedding can hardly be described as ostentatious, overtaken as it is by other even more ostentatious weddings. If this wedding had cost her Rs 100 crore, twenty years later, mining magnet Janardhan Reddy’s daughter’s wedding held at the Bengaluru Palace Grounds is reported to have cost over Rs 550 crore. For the wedding of Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari’s daughter, about 30 chartered flights touched down in Nagpur.

An angry former chief minister M Karunanidhi had in 1996 asked how arch rival Jayalalithaa had spent so much money when she drew just rupee one as salary every month. Women groups and lawyers went to town over her extravaganza and managed to whip up a wave of anti-Jayalalithaa sentiment accusing her of misusing public machinery for a private function.

This was followed by police raids on her residence where they netted over 11,000 saris, 750 pairs of shoes and a three-pound diamond studded gold belt.

She found herself being accused of being another Imelda Marcos, the wife of deposed Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos, who was found (following raids) to have 3,000 pairs of shoes in her closet.

The adverse publicity saw the party losing elections in May 1996 and she herself was defeated from the Bargur constituency. This was a low period for Jayalalithaa because it saw 48 cases being slapped against her and her aide Sasikala. On 27 August 1996, she snapped ties with Sasikala and disowned her foster son Sudhakaran. December of the same year saw her being arrested and having to spend a month in prison.

This one month period must have been a learning curve for her because after her release, it saw Jayalalithaa emerge as someone who shunned ostentation. She dressed simply and wore no jewellery. She also publicly promised to change and devote herself to the welfare of her citizens.

She kept her promise and introduced several welfare schemes across the state. Following her re-election, she started a number of populist schemes aimed at creating a strong base for her party. In this, she succeeded.

Her Amma canteens, Amma pharmacies, the mixers and grinders, and colour TV sets given to the voters won her the hearts of the Tamilian people.

Even prior to her release from jail, she had a marked pro-people tilt. In 1991, she swept the elections with the AIADMK party winning 225 seats out of 234. The women in Tamil Nadu had rallied around in large numbers. And it was in one such election rally which I attended that she announced that all girl students passing the tenth standard would be given a bicycle.

The cradle baby scheme for girl infants who are deserted by their families along with TASMAC was also introduced.
These and several other welfare measures have ensured that Tamil Nadu has some of the best social indicators amongst all the states in the country. For a leader who was a reluctant politician and started out as an ostentatious displayer of power and pelf, it is no small matter that one of the principal reasons why she will be remembered for is making welfarism an accepted, even emulated, part of statecraft.

First Published On : Dec 7, 2016 08:04 IST

Amma laid to rest: Post Jayalalithaa, where does Tamil Nadu’s political future lie?

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Jayalalithaa’s death has brought Tamil Nadu’s political arena to the crossroads. While the ruling AIADMK was generally at least five per cent ahead of its main rival DMK during MGR’s rule, and later during her reign as well, the death of the AIADMK supremo is now being seen as a great leveller. Analysts believe it could bring unexpected, windfall gains for the DMK, and bring it closer to the strength of the ruling party.The 2016 Assembly elections already saw a close fight between the AIADMK and the DMK, with the former polling just 1 per cent more votes than the DMK. The AIADMK scraped through with 137 seats in the 234-member House (including three by-elections won recently), with the DMK coming a close second with 89 seats.In the next elections, the AIADMK will be without its main vote-catcher, Jaya, and will also lack a charismatic leader. O Panneerselvam, elected chief minister in her place, can run the government with the help of officials, but can he deliver an electoral victory, is the big question.The AIADMK will have to hope that the MGR vote-bank will be supplemented by a Jayalithaa vote-bank. Any erosion in the Jaya vote-bank could rob the party of a decisive political edge.On the other hand, the DMK is also facing a crisis as its president M Karunanidhi too is unwell (he is undergoing treatment in another hospital) and he may not be around for the next Assembly elections which are due in 2021.Karunanidhi is reluctant to hand over the party reins to his son and Leader of the Opposition, MK Stalin and is trying to bring his other son, M K Alagiri, back into the party. However, he continues to face resistance from Stalin. The party chief also has to balance family equations in the party to placate his daughter and MP, Kanimozhi, as well. The party is gripped by internal strife and rumblings in the family continue. For the DMK to successfully overtake the AIADMK, it has to showcase unity in the party. But this is still a far cry.On the national front, the BJP and the Congress are both looking for some opportunity to renew an alliance with the AIADMK. Jayalalithaa’s bold and risky stand of going it alone in the 2014 LS polls and 2016 Assembly elections may not be followed by the new dispensation in the AIADMK. It may bank on the options exercised in the past of an alliance to ensure the defeat of the DMK.This is where PM Modi will sense a chance to drive a bargain with an AIADMK which he will perceive as having been weakened considerably by the absence of Jaya.The Congress too senses an opportunity here. The AICC had appointed former AIADMK minister S Thirunavukkarasar as its party chief in Tamil Nadu a few months ago with the main objective of building bridges with the AIADMK. Now that Jayalalithaa is no more, the Congress will try to use past links with Sasikala and her husband Natarajan to revive an alliance with the AIADMK for the 2019 LS polls.The party, which drew a blank in Tamil Nadu in the Lok Sabha polls in 2014, could then hope to substantially improve its position in the next elections in 2019 and try to form the government. Tamil Nadu has always been a key state in government formation at the Centre. This is why both the principal national parties are bound to woo the AIADMK.The Left parties and the MDMK too hope that they could strike an alliance with the AIADMK for the next elections. Thus, all these parties have something to hope for with the recent turn of events in the party.All of these ifs and buts depend on Sasikala. Sasikala, who will call the shots in the government as a de facto chief minister, could also take up a key party post to enable direct intervention in party affairs and to have total command of the party. Party insiders say that Sasikala could be the next general secretary of the AIADMK. This post has now fallen vacant with the death of Jayalalithaa.Sasikala’s husband, Natarajan, could also be given a party post. This former government employee has a keen political insight, and said is to be the brain behind Sasikala. However, Jayalalithaa had kept him at a distance and would not allow him to enter her Poes Garden residence. Sasikala could now suggest that the party may make use of his services.In the past, both MGR and Jaya held both posts – that of CM and party general secretary. On Monday, the party merely elected O Panneerselvam as the Legislature Party leader for him to take over the chief ministership. The party is silent on the question of the general secretary’s post.In the past, the hand of Sasikala (who belongs to the Thevar community) was seen in some appointments (especially Thevars for important government posts or in selection of candidates for elections). This time round, she may want to play a more direct role.Analysts believe that Sasikala is likely to drive a hard bargain with both the BJP and Congress. For instance, the Disproportionate Assets case is still pending in the Supreme Court against Jayalalithaa. Sasikala, and two of her relatives, are also accused in this case.Although the case was originally filed by the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption during the DMK’s rule, it was then shifted to Karnataka on a petition filed by the DMK. Thus, the appeal against the Karnataka HC judgment, setting aside the conviction of Jaya, Sasikala and others, was filed by the Karnataka government. Will the Congress chief minister in Karnataka help Sasikala in getting a clean chit from the Supreme Court? Will the BJP government at the Centre help Sasikala with regard to this case? The answers to these questions may indicate the path that the AIADMK is likely to take in the near future.The AIADMK is likely to take a stand on ties with other parties only after the SC verdict in the DA case, especially with relation to Sasikala and members of her family. Till then, the party most probably will pursue a policy of equidistance from other parties.The prospect of alliances with other minor parties in the State may also get a fresh impetus as the AIADMK may bank on a safety-first policy rather than try to take on all parties as in 2014 and 2016. In the ruling AIADMK, a sense of pragmatism and realism may determine its future policies.

AIADMK heading for a split: Subramanian Swamy’s grim prediction

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>AIADMK will head for a split as J Jayalalithaa’s close confidante Sasikala Natarajan will take over the reins of the party and not allow newly-elected Chief Minister O Panneerselvam to function independently, senior BJP leader Subramanian Swamy claimed. “AIADMK will not survive as a single entity. Sasikala Natarajan will be the head of the organisation and will not give Panneerselvam a free hand and she will ultimately find somebody from the family for the post,” Swamy said. The BJP leader said Panneerselvam also has no base in the party nor does Sasikala posses any political “acumen”. Yesterday, two hours after the announcement of Jayalalithaa’s death, in a swift political transition, her loyalist Panneerselvam was sworn in as CM at a sombre ceremony at the Raj Bhawan along with all the ministers in the erstwhile Cabinet. Panneerselvam had stepped into her shoes twice earlier when she was convicted in corruption cases.As Finance Minister, he was given charge of the portfolios held by Jayalalithaa after she was admitted to Apollo Hospitals on September 22.

‘Most men are terrified of me’: Watch J Jayalalithaa’s heart warming interview with Simi Garewal

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The state of Tamil Nadu came to a virtual standstill as J Jayalalithaa, affectionately called Amma by the faithful, breathed her last at Apollo Hospitals on Monday. She had been hospitalised for over two months with a lung infection and had suffered a cardiac arrest on Sunday night.Despite being one of the most prolific leaders in modern India, J Jayalalithaa made it a point to keep the press out of her life. Her distrust of the media was legendary, but there’s one Amma interview that stands out – her interaction with Simi Garewal. It’s ironic that a Bollywood talk-show host beat all political journalists but perhaps because she wasn’t looking to score any brownie points, Garewal’s interview stands out as the one time where we got to see the human face of the lady they called Iron Butterfly.In the interview, Jaya explains that she had a lot of ‘will power, self-control’ and said: “When you are a leader you learn to control your emotions, you learn to keep them in control. I keep my emotions to myself. I have never lost my temper in public, I have never wept in public.”She talks about her childhood, growing up without a father and a mother whose work schedule meant she was often led to her own devices. She also revealed: “When I was about five, and she had come to Bangalore to see us, I always used to cry whenever she left, so she used to put me to sleep and I always used to sleep clutching her sari pallu in my hands. I used to wind it tight around my hand. So, my mother used to find it impossible to get up and leave. So, leaving the edge of the sari in my hand, she used to gradually unwind the sari from herself, and she used to make my aunt drape the sari around herself and lie down beside me so that I wouldn’t notice her leaving. And then of course when I got up and found that Mother was gone, I would cry and cry and cry, I used to be inconsolable for about three days. But after that there was school and other things and I would get over it. But throughout those four years when I was in Bangalore, I was pining for my mother every minute, every second.”Garewal even coaxed her to talk about her crushes which included the legendary Shammi Kapoor and she even sings Aaja Sanam Madhur Chandni from Mein Hum. Showing her smug side, she told Garewal: “Nowadays most men I meet are terrified of me. Politics can do without women. And they tried really hard to make it happen without women.”Watch the interview below: Part 1Part 2J Jayalaithaa ObitJayalalithaa, tinsel town heroine who practised politics on her own terms to remain one of the main poles of Tamil Nadu politics for three decades, was a feisty leader with a lot of grit and determination staging remarkable comebacks despite setbacks on account of corruption cases.A teen starlet, who acted with the who’s who of Tamil cinema in the sixties and seventies, Jayalalitha went on to become a five-time chief minister of Tamil Nadu, effortlessly inheriting the mantle of her mentor and superstar MGR.Practitioner of adulatory politics, she has often been criticised for the public display of unswerving loyalty of her senior leaders and cadre, but nothing deterred her from what she sought to achieve in her own way.Born in a Brahmin family in Mysore in Karnataka, Jayalalitha quite often had the better of her arch-rival M Karunanidhi, a stalwart and one of the earliest products of the Dravidian movement that was founded on an anti-Brahmin platform.After her formal initiation into the politics in 1982 when she was inducted into the AIADMK, she displayed enormous political skills in shouldering the task of running the party after the death of M G Ramachandran in 1987.68-year-old Jayalalithaa had to quit twice over corruption cases, but managed to stage dramatic comebacks on both occasions.While the journey of actor Jayalalithaa started in 1965 in ‘Vennira Aadai,’ (The White Dress), she assumed her political avatar in 1982 after MGR made her the Propaganda Secretary the next year.The charismatic actor-politician was made a Rajya Sabha member in 1984 by Ramachandran, with whom she had paired opposite in 28 films, and led the party’s charge in the 1984 Assembly and Lok Sabha polls when he could could not go on a campaign trail following illness.But her moment of reckoning came a few years later when Ramachandran died in 1987, with AIADMK at crossroads.The leader was humiliated as MGR’s body was lying in state in the heritage Rajaji Hall when a DMK leader tried to push her from the rostrum.She faced intense and protracted struggle to eventually head the AIADMK overcoming the animosity of rival camps led by the leaders like senior minister in the MGR cabinet R M Veerappan.AIADMK split into two factions then, famously called AIADMK (J) and AIADMK (Ja) after Jayalalithaa and Janaki, wife of Ramachandran.Jayalalithaa successfully contested the Tamil Nadu Assembly election in 1989 from Bodinayakkanur and became the first woman Leader of Opposition in the House.This period saw some challenges in her political and personal life, with Jayalalithaa alleging she was harassed and attacked by ruling DMK in the House even as she met with a deadly accident.She unified AIADMK in 1990 which had split following thedeath of Ramachandran and led her party to a superb victory in 1991 with a massive majority.However, the five-year period turned out to be her undoing as corruption charges, display of pomp during her foster son’s marriage and non-performance led to her defeat in the 1996 elections at the hands of arch rival DMK.Soon after, a slew of cases including the disproportionate assets case were filed against her.She had to quit twice following court cases, once in 2001 and later in 2014.For nearly six months, starting September 2001 she was out of office after she was unseated by Supreme Court vis-a-vis electoral disqualification in the TANSI case.Between September 29, 2014, and May 22, 2015, she was out of office again after she was disqualified as a legislator and consequently lost chief ministership following her conviction in a graft case by a trial court in Bengaluru which was later set aside by Karnataka High Court.Twice she went to jail, once after the DMK government registered a corruption case in 1996 and the second time after her conviction in 2014.But Jayalalitha took legal recourse to stage terrific comebacks on both the occasions.Altogether, she was sworn in as CM five times-1991-96, May-Sept 2001, 2002-06, 2011-14, 2015-16.Hailed as ‘Puratchi Thalaivi’ (Revolutionary Leader), Jayalalithaa proved wrong all calculations of DMK retaining power in 2011 when she led her party to a fantastic victory by forming a rainbow coalition comprising DMDK and Left parties.She retained power in 2016, scripting history after three decades to ensure that a party won a successive term.Jayalalithaa is credited with introducing innovative schemes and projects, including 69 per cent reservation in education and employment, freebies and a host of brand Amma initiatives like water, cement and subsidised canteens.Jayalalithaa’s only trusted aide for long was Sasikala Natarajan who stayed with her at her Poes Garden. Sasikala was briefly expelled from the party for a couple of times but the two reconciled quickly on those occasions.

Jayalalithaa’s demise: Meet the family members of late Tamil Nadu chief minister

The late Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa breathed her last at 11.30 pm on Monday after suffering a cardiac arrest. She had been admitted to Chennai’s Apollo Hospital since 22 September after complaining of fever and dehydration. The actress-turned-politician, who joined the AIADMK under her mentor MG Ramachandran’s tutelage, remained a spinster all her life. But while she remained at the centre of Tamil Nadu politics, her family has seldom been in the limelight. Here are a few of the prominent family members of the departed leader.

N Ragachar:

Jayalalithaa’s paternal grandfather. According to the book Amma: Jayalalithaa’s Journey from Movie Star to Political Queen, written by veteran journalist Vaasanthi, he was a doctor who served the Mysore royal family during the reign of Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV.

Rangaswamy Iyengar:

Jayalalithaa’s maternal grandfather, hailed originally from Tamil Nadu’s Srirangam, but moved to Bangalore. According to Vaasanthi’s 2016 book, he got a job at Hindustan Aeronautics Limited in the Karnataka state capital. After her mother chose to enter the film industry in Chennai, Jayalalitha and brother Jaya Kumar remained in Bangalore with their grandfather, where Jayalalithaa went to the Bishop Cotton School.

Jayaram:

Jayalalithaa’s father Jayaram was a lawyer but died when she was just two years old. According to Jayalalithaa: A Portrait, also written by Vaasanthi, Jayalalithaa wrote in the 1970s that her father died under mysterious circumstances after squandering the family wealth.

Vedavalli:

Jayalalithaa’s mother. After her husband’s death, Vedavalli went back to her grandfather’s house in Bangalore. In order to support her children, she took the job of a typist. However, unsatisfied with the meagre earnings it offered, she chose to try her luck in films. She adopted a screen name, Sandhya, and played character roles. She was instrumental in bringing Jayalalithaa into the film industry after the family suffered a financial crisis. She died in 1971. In an interview to Rediff, the late CM said that her mother had been a major influence on her.

Jaya Kumar:

Jayalalithaa’s brother, with whom she lived in Bangalore in her formative years. Relations between the siblings strained in the 90s following the death of Jayalalitha’s mentor MG Ramachandran. Jaya Kumar died in an accident in 1995, as per this report in The Indian Express.

Deepa:

Jaya Kumar’s daughter and Jayalalithaa’s niece. According to a report in The Times of India, she made numerous attempts top meet her aunt over the years, but was not allowed to do so. Back in 2014, following Jayalalithaa’s release from prison, Deepa and her husband tried to meet the AIADMK chief, but weren’t let in. Even when Jayalalithaa was ailing in hospital, she was all alone as Deepa was turned away by the police at the hospital.

VN Sudhakaran:

The nephew of Jayalalithaa’s aide Sasikala. Jayalalithaa once considered Sudhakran her foster son, but later disowned him. In September 1995, he was married off to Satyavati, the granddaughter of legendary Tamil actor Sivaji Ganesan. He was convicted in the disproportionate assets case, in which Jayalalithaa and Sasikala were also implicated, and sentenced to four years in prison.

Vasudevan:

Jayalalithaa’s elder step-brother, who according to this report in Deccan Chronicle, was the son of Jayaram, who married Vasudevan’s mother Jayamma before marrying Jayalalithaa’s mother. Estranged from Jayalalithaa, Vasudevan currently lives in obscurity in a village in Mysuru district.

First Published On : Dec 6, 2016 17:36 IST

Amma no more: O Panneerselvam breaks down as PM pays floral tributes to Jaya

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>An inconsolable Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam hugged Narendra Modi emotionally on a couple of occasions as the Prime Minister approached the casket containing Jayalalithaa’s body to pay his last respects.The atmosphere was surcharged as Modi, amid tight security, walked into Rajaji Hall, where the AIADMK supremo’s body is lying in state. As he walked towards Panneerselvam after placing a wreath near the body, the latter broke down and hugged him. Modi affectionately patted him, suggesting that he be strong. As Modi walked back to his vehicle, Panneerselvam again hugged him with tears in his eyes. Earlier, the Prime Minister consoled Jayalalithaa’s close confidante Sasikala, who was crying.Even at that time, Panneerselvam again broke down and the Prime Minister hugged him, asking him to control his emotions. A huge posse of security personnel, including black cat commandos, were on alert as the Prime Minister passed through the huge crowd that had converged at the Rajaji Hall. Modi was also seen requesting people not to take photos on their mobile phones as he greeted them with folded hands.

Jayalalithaa dead: How Amma’s populist policies left a debt bomb ticking in TN

The word, ‘Amma’ (mother) is used six times in Tamil Nadu’s 2016-17 budget document, presented by finance minister O Panneerselvam on 21 July, the adjective Puratchi Thalaivi is used once and references to ‘chief minister’ 31 times.

Just like the verses of scriptures typically begins with a prayer to the cosmic force, Panneerselvam, appears to offer prayers to the AIADMK supreme leader often in the budget speech, thus making the whole 86 page budget document a humble submission at the feet of his and his party men’s supreme ‘mother’.

File photo of Jayalalithaa. PTIFile photo of Jayalalithaa. PTI

File photo of Jayalalithaa. PTI

A quick glance through Panneerselvam’s 2016-17 budget document reaffirms Jayalalithaa’s iconic, cult status. Terms like, “unparalleled”, “unflinching” “historic”, “infinite love”, “affection” are used to describe Mother Jayalalithaa, who died on Monday night at Apollo hospital in Chennai, while serving her sixth term as the chief minister.

Perhaps, in these times, there is no other Indian state as TN where political leaders enjoy blind devotion of their followers, mostly the poor strata of the society. For most part of her life, Jayalalithaa carried the stature of a demigod, first as an actress and later as a politician, universally admired by her followers as ‘mother’, before whom they never shy to prostrate. For them she was never human.

Most of the social welfare schemes in TN are named after her — ‘Tamil Nadu Village Habitation Improvement’ (THAI) scheme (‘Thai’ in tamil means mother), “Amma Unavagam” (subsidised food), Amma Kudineer (drinking water scheme), Amma laptops, ‘Amma Baby Care Kit’,‘Amma Magapperu Sanjeevi’ and ‘Amma Arogiya Thittam’. There are a number of such schemes that carry her name. People adore those products/services as mother’s blessings, thus melting the thin line between political populism and insane, often blind personality-driven politics.

The populist bandwagon

How did Jayalalithaa win the hearts of poor? To say the least, she was also the ‘mother’ of all freebie schemes that ensured the support of middle and lower-income class in multiple areas. To be sure, some of these were transformative in nature in the areas of education, housing and aiding small entrepreneurs.

Certain examples include the World Bank-aided ‘Pudhu Vaazhvu Project launched in 2005.  Under this scheme, which the government claims to have given job-oriented skill training to 3.27 lakh youth. The THAI scheme, so far implemented in 71,126 habitations pertaining to 9,511 village panchayats and the housing scheme under which in the last four years, the Tamil Nadu Housing Board has constructed 10,059 units at a cost of Rs 565.92 crore, including 2,293 houses for the low income group.

‘Amma’ is also known for her investor-friendly approach, which explains the reason why the state is home to more industries and employment than any other Indian state, according to IndiaSpend research. TN is also home to a small-sector movement with the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) sector providing employment to 63.18 lakh persons.

No doubt. Jayalalithaa has been an able administrator. This is evident from the progress made by the state in the areas of poverty eradication, social welfare, investor-friendly measures and overall economic numbers. TN’s Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP), which fell to 3.4 percent in real terms, during 2012-13, was reversed to 7.3 percent towards 2013-14 — higher than the national average growth rate of 4.7 percent of that period.

The state recorded a GSDP growth rate of 8.8 percent in 2015-16 as against the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate of 7.6 percent, based on the 2011-12 constant prices. The gross fixed capital formation, which indicates the investment activity too has improved significantly, touching Rs 34,091 crore in the fiscal year 2014 compared with Rs 23,054 crore when her predecessor, M Karunanidhi left office in 2010-11.

A TN debt-bomb in making?

But, in the process of rolling out freebies, she also built a debt bomb for the state. At this point, TN’s debt is over Rs 2 lakh crore. But, according to an IndiaSpend analysis, TN’s debt has witnessed a 92 percent increase over five years ending 2015. According to the Reserve Bank data, TN registered the highest gross fiscal deficit among all states in 2015-16 at Rs 31,830 crore. For current fiscal the TN government pegged its fiscal deficit at Rs 40,534 crore or  2.96 of GSDP.

state debt tablestate debt tableIn the last five years, when Jayalalithaa was in office, the debt level of Tamil Nadu has risen 105 percent from Rs 1.14 lakh crore to Rs 2.35 lakh crore. This is the sharpest increase in debt levels by a large state.

Of all Indian states, only Haryana has beaten TN with a 141 percent rise in public debt. It is needless to say most of this debt is the consequence of Jayalalithaa’s populist bandwagon aiming at the poor of the state. Other large industrial states like Maharashtra and Gujarat have seen their debt level increasing by a relatively better 64.5 percent and 60.3 percent in the same period.

There is no impressive trend in tax revenue correspondingly. According to 2016-17 TN budget, the tax revenue is estimated to increase to Rs 90,691.87 crore in revised budget estimates for 2016-2017 from Rs.86,537.70 crore as per the revised estimates 2015-2016.

For TN, ‘Amma’ leaves an era of political populism and a debt bomb in making. Amma’s presence will still be felt in the TN cabinet meetings through her image and the memories of her charismatic leadership. But, the task of dealing with the debt bomb in making is up to her trusted lieutenant O Panneerselvam and his AIADMK colleagues.

(Kishor Kadam contributed to this story)

First Published On : Dec 6, 2016 15:08 IST

Jayalalithaa-Karunanidhi rivalry: How a poet and an actress ruled the state

Best remembered as her political rival, DMK leader M Karunanidhi — himself hospitalised — condoled the death of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, who passed away at Chennai’s Apollo Hospitals on Monday night.

“I offer deep condolences on the passing away of Jayalalithaa. Wishes of lakhs of her followers will make her immortal,” Karunanidhi said.

The DMK patriarch’s tribute sounds gregarious, but for those in the know when it comes to Tamil Nadu politics, the two were fierce adversaries; opposing titans in Dravidian politics, post the MGR era. To revisit their rivalry, one would first have to visit their entry into politics, which takes root in the Dravidian movement, something that still holds good with any political party in Tamil Nadu. (Case in point, the DMK, AIADMK, MDMK, DMDK)

File image of Jayalalitha and Karunanidhi. ReutersFile image of Jayalalitha and Karunanidhi. Reuters

File image of Jayalalitha and Karunanidhi. Reuters

It all started with the emergence of a series of non-Brahmin conferences in the then Madras Presidency in the 1900s, which gave rise to the Justice Party, established in 1916 by Dr TM Nair, P Theagaraya Chettiar and Dr C Natesa Mudaliar — who also to their credit have roads named after them in Chennai. The seeds sown by the Justice Party along with the Self Respect Movement started by EV Periyar took formidable shape in the late 19th century — in 1938, The Indian Express reports, the Justice Party and the Self Respect Movement came together to form the Dravida Kazhagam, which aimed to serve as an anti-Brahmin, anti-Congress and an anti-North Indian outfit. This was mainly to counter the Rajagopalachari-led Congress’ move to impose Hindi in the state; DK then launched the anti-Hindi agitations of 1937-40. (Hindi is still a thorn in Tamil Nadu’s flesh)

Annadurai, who became the party’s first general secretary, left the DK after he differed with Periyar on India’s independence and formed the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) in 1949. The DMK further split in 1972 when actor-turned-politician MG Ramachandran (MGR) was expelled from the party, writes Frontline, following differences between him and M Karunanidhi, primarily a screenwriter and an orator, who served as party president. MGR went on to launch the Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (ADMK), which later took on the prefix of ‘All India’ during the Emergency. The AIADMK did split into two factions following MGR’s death, one led by the wife Janaki Ramachandran and the other by Jayalalithaa and in 1989 the two factions merged.

History aside, Karunanidhi is known to have built his political career on his oratorical flourishes — his fiery speeches sometimes leave nothing to the imagination or a whole lot, they provoke with the pulse of a fiery rhetoric. This piece in Fountain Ink describes the public craze surrounding Karunanidhi’s poetry.

“There were times when scores of people would pour out of their homes to hear Karunanidhi’s poetry, see MGR and Jayalalithaa.”

In fact, he earned his sobriquet Kalaignar because he spoke “Tamil with a poetic fervour and his skills in oratory and writing  were widely appreciated”, writes Vaasanthi in Cut-outs, Caste and Cines Stars. It is also known that Karunanidhi, born into a poor Isai Vellalar family (members who nurtured arts and music), took pride in being called Kalaignar. The Caravan, in a splendid profile of him and his family, writes that his father “introduced him to the epics, oral stories and music”. But it was really his work for the Sivaji Ganesan-starrer Parasakthi that catapulted him into fame. Adapted from the eponymous play, Karunanidhi was signed to write the script.

Randor Guy writes for The Hindu that, “the powerful writing of Karunanidhi, the atheistic stance, the performance of the unknown newcomer all this and more took the world by storm”. Parasakthi not only made Sivaji famous but also Karunanidhi; the latter used films as a medium to spread the party’s ideology, which still pays the dividends for DMK. His speeches drew crowds and how!

Sample this poem by Karunanidhi where he describes his body as a sacrifice to Tamil people, “if you dash me against the rocks, I will break into the flakes of a coconut; you can pick these up and eat them, and rejoice”. Further, out of his great devotion to Tirukkural, Karunanidhi even built a monument for Tiruvalluvar, Valluvar Kottom, in Chennai.

Contrast this with the late Jayalalithaa, who started out as an actress — a glamorous entry that shot her to fame — only to make herself less attractive and grow into a matriarchal role, of that as ‘Amma’. Vaasanthi reinforces this view in her biography of Jayalalithaa, writing that the latter consciously set out to “de-glamourise her appearance, perhaps in an attempt to wipe out the stigma attached to her as an actress”. It was exactly this “stigma” that drew in crowds for the AIADMK: A party conference at Cuddalore was organised, and it was no surprise that the whole town gathered to hear the star speaker deliver her maiden political speech. “They mainly came to see a pretty face, and were instead treated to an impressive, fiery oration,” Vaasanthi writes.

Perhaps enjoying the rush, Jayalalithaa joined the AIADMK in June 1982; the DMK described the event as “Cuddalore cabaret” in its mouthpiece.

However, after she became AIADMK’s party secretary she stuck to a simple white sari sans jewellery, and instead stepping up her oratorical game. Her emotionally-charged speeches always contained the trademark questions — “neengal seiveerhala (Will you fulfill it)?” asking the crowd whether they would vote for AIADMK and defeat the opposition. The other thing that usually worked in favour of Jayalalithaa is the elevation to a near-goddess status and her projection of an emotional attachment to the late MGR — as someone who carried forward his legacy.

Jayalalitha’s photograph has also frequently been superimposed onto various images of the goddess in AIADMK propaganda material, especially that of her being depicted as the Virgin Mary in posters commissioned for her 47th birthday.

The incident that stemmed their enmity finds its base in the shameful attempt to disrobe Jayalalithaa in 1989 in the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly where Jayalalithaa accused the DMK of harassing her and tapping her phones. Karunanidhi retorted with a reportedly unfavourable remark that made Jayalalithaa furious and caused a ruckus in the Assembly. As the speaker adjourned the House and Jayalalithaa was making her exit, Duraimurugan clutched her sari and tried to pull it. She then vowed to never step foot inside the Assembly until she won the next election and until conditions were made favourable for women. In 1991, AIADMK triumphed DMK and took 224 seats, while the latter was reduced to a single digit, seven.

First Published On : Dec 6, 2016 14:13 IST

Through thick and thin: Sasikala stands beside Jayalalithaa as people pay homage

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Clad in a black saree, a sombre-looking Sasikala Natarajan, who remained a wall of support for Jayalalithaa through thick and thin, remained beside the casket of the departed leader as people filed past it paying their homage.Intermittently standing up and touching Jayalalithaa’s face, which was kept in state at Rajaji Hall, Sasikala looked lost even as she acknowledged the condolences of visitors.Jayalalithaa’s demise is seen as a personal loss for the 59-year-old Sasikala who was probably one of the few occupants of the Chief Minister’s Veda Nilayam residence at Poes Garden besides assistants and officials.Ever since Jayalalithaa was hospitalised on September 22, Sasikala remained with her, giving the ailing AIADMK supremo much needed emotional support.The relationship between the two had kicked up many a storm during Jayalalithaa’s three decades of political career with some blaming her proximity to Sasikala for the AIADMK’s electoral defeats on some occasions.Both were accused in the infamous disproportionate assets case and were convicted by a trial court in Bengaluru, though the Karnataka High court later reversed the lower court order.Incidentally, Jayalalithaa had twice fallen out with Sasikala a few years ago for alleged anti-party activities.She and some of her family members had been expelled from the party and asked to vacate Jayalalithaa’s Poes Garden residence. However, the separation between the two was short-lived as they patched up in no time.Sasikala then continued to accompany Jayalalithaa at various functions including the latter’s election campaigns in her special vehicle, earning the sobriquet of ‘Jayalalithaa’s shadow’ by detractors.Sasikala would usually be seen seated in the rear seat of the vehicle, merely watching Jayalaithaa’s electoral addresses, and providing her ‘akka’ (sister) with assistance.She had come in contact with Jayalalithaa in the 80s as a video company owner, getting the leader’s various events covered.Hailing from a humble background from Mannargudi in south Tamil Nadu, ‘Chinnamma’ as Sasikala was known in her circles gradually gained acceptance in the Veda Nilayam residence, and even wielded influence in AIADMK at one point of time.

After Jayalalithaa: Is there a plan for a successor to the people’s authoritarian?

J Jayalalithaa’s (her name is sometimes spelled Jayalalitha) death leads to two questions.

Was she, the four-time chief minister of the leading southern state, to be seen as a despot before whom even elected representatives right up to those in Parliament from her party cringed?

Or, was she a benign ruler who treated the state’s weak as those deserving of support by virtue of freebies and subsidising many essentials under the Amma brand?

She was both, ensuring she alone counted.

Other politicians in the party were reduced to flunkies, and provided her the numbers in the legislature to look to the poor. Enduring images are those of ministers prostrating before her while she wouldn’t even deign to glance at them. And of the public who stood in vigil outside the hospital as she battled for life, saying she ‘was God, there would be a miracle; she cannot die’.

File image of Jayalalithaa. AFP

File image of Jayalalithaa. AFP

There are two offices that have suddenly fallen vacant at the same moment, that of the chief minister, and the general secretary of the AIADMK. In the hierarchical political arrangement, the latter would have the superior status, calling the shots on behalf of the party. Jayalalithaa held both posts and that makes the succession process tricky. In a television interview to Prabhu Chawla long ago, Jayalalithaa had clearly said there was no succession plan, and whoever emerged as a person with strong grassroots supports would get her mantle. MGR, her mentor, had risen that way, and she had as well. Her successor too would have to be one with such credentials. But do we know of a single person in AIADMK who has that qualification?

Quite charismatic, Jayalalithaa’s silence and aloofness added to the mystique surrounding her. Her moves were studied used the surgical knife to cut out any nonsense as she saw it. If there was anyone close to her, it was Sasikala Natarajan, and if anyone knew Jayalalithaa’s mind, it was she. Even O Panneerselvam, twice the short-duration stop-gap chief minister had to wait for her bidding even while in office.

Would the friend now wield power regardless of who the next chief minister was, because she knew what Jayalalithaa knew and others did not? Or would that in itself bring her to the front as a chief minister? He or she who would be listened to by the MLAs, and the people, would hold the reigns, both de facto and de jure.

The very nature of the authoritarian conduct of a political party by its leader leaves behind the distinct possibility of confusion in the succession. Jayalalithaa did not make known her mind about who her successor would be, didn’t build a clear second rung which indicated a visible pecking order. It was as if power and person are tied together in perpetuity.

Pannerselvam will have had to conduct himself firmly to give the party that he was a strong man, even if at her behest, so that he was not fooled with now. He hardly ever tried, because that would have forked him out of the chief minister’s chair quicker than you could say, “Jack Robinson”. But the public image is of a cringing man who broke into tears, and conducted meetings with Jayalalithaa’s photograph bearing down on the cabinet.

Politicians are shrewd but there is no evidence to show that they, under her leadership, had developed sufficient heft of their own to make any strong bids to jostle for space in the top tiers. Bowing to her, or kowtowing, if you please, must have left them psychologically supine. It could be difficult to reengineer their DNAs.

First Published On : Dec 6, 2016 11:59 IST

Rare pictures of India’s extraordinary Jayalalitha

The chequered film and political career of one of India’s most powerful and popular politicians

All you need to know about J Jayalalithaa

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and ​All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) party chief J Jayalalithaa passed away on December 5 at 11.30 PM in Apollo hospital, Chennai, where she was admitted since September 22. On Sunday, ‘Amma’ as she was fondly called, suffered a cardiac arrest and passed away a day later, at the age of 68 years.Late Monday night, after the announcement, Tamil Nadu Finance Minister O Panneerselvam was sworn in as the chief minister. Early life
ALSO READ Jayalalithaa (1948-2016): A life called Puratchi Thalaivi► Jayaraman Jayalalithaa was born on February 24, 1948, at Melukote in Mysore State (now Karnataka), to Jayaram and Vedavalli in an Iyengar family. Her family served King Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar of Mysore.► Her birth name is Komalavalli.
ALSO READ AIADMK chief and Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalithaa passes away► Jayalalithaa lost her father when she was just two years old, and her mother started working in films to support the family.► She was fluent in several languages, including Tamil, Kannada, Hindi, Malayalam, Telugu, and English.
ALSO READ Remembering Amma: The Life and Times of J JayalalithaaLife as an actress► She appeared as the lead actress in over 140 films which included movies in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, and even one Hindi film.► Jayalalithaa started working in films from the age of 15. Her debut Kannada film was Chinnada Gombe. She also acted in an English film, Epistle, released in 1961; and a Hindi film called Izzat, in 1968 with Dharmendra as her costar.► She made her debut in Tamil cinema with a role in Vennira Aadai (1965), directed by CV Sridhar. She was the first actress to appear in skirts in Tamil films.► In 1966, she made her debut in Telugu cinema with Manushulu Mamathalu. Political life► She was the incumbent general secretary of All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK). She was called ‘Amma’ (mother) and sometimes ‘Puratchi Thalaivi’ (Revolutionary Leader) by her followers.► She joined the AIADMK in 1982, which was founded by popular actor Marudur Gopalan Ramachandran (MGR). Although there were claims that Jayalalithaa was introduced to politics by MGR, she denied it.► Her maiden public speech, Pennin Perumai (the Greatness of a Woman), was delivered at the political conference of the AIADMK that year. In 1983, she became the propaganda secretary for the party and was selected as the AIADMK candidate in the by-election for the Tiruchendur Assembly constituency.► MGR wanted her to be a member of the Rajya Sabha because of her fluency in English. Jayalalithaa was nominated and elected to the Upper House as a Member of Parliament in 1984 and retained her seat until 1989, completing the five-year term.► She was successful as the propaganda secretary, which led to resentment among the high-ranking members of the party. Those members engineered a rift between MGR and her. Despite this, she remained admired by the rank and file of the party.► In 1984, when MGR was incapacitated after a stroke, Jayalalithaa was said to have made an attempt to take over as the chief minister or the party head on the pretext that his health would prevent him from the proper execution of his duties. She successfully led the campaign in the 1984 general elections, in which the AIADMK allied with the Congress.► She was elected to the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly in 1989 as a representative of the Bodinayakkanur (State Assembly Constituency). This election saw the Jayalalithaa-led faction of the AIADMK win 27 seats and Jayalalithaa became the first woman to be elected as the Leader of the Opposition. In February 1989, the two factions of AIADMK caused after MGR’s death, merged and they unanimously accepted Jayalalithaa as their leader and the “Two leaves” symbol of the party was restored.► She became the second elected female chief minister of Tamil Nadu in 1991.► Jayalalithaa held the position of the Chief Minister on and off for six terms, covering over 13 years since 1991. (With agency inputs)

Jayalalithaa-Sasikala Natarajan friendship: Soul sisters whose relationship soured

The relationship between J Jayalalithaa and her companion Sasikala Natarajan has been quite well-documented in the history of Tamil Nadu politics — it has been both tumultuous and rewarding for both of them alike. In fact, Jayalalithaa’s relationships with MGR and Karunanidhi, which will merit two separate pieces altogether, have only been more frenzied, perhaps at times even less.

As the story goes, the credit of introducing Sasikala to Jayalalithaa belongs to IAS officer-turned-politician VS Chandralekha, who hired Sasikala’s husband, R Natarajan as her PRO. In the 1980s, when Jayalalithaa entered politics, the two grew reportedly close, with Sasikala even wanting to film a video of the “glamourous propaganda secretary” to sell at a huge profit, writes The Sunday Guardian. Soon, the Mannargudi-based Sasikala started taking charge around Jayalalithaa’s house — this was during the time when MGR was hospitalised, writes Vaasanthi in Amma: Jayalalithaa’s Journey from Movie Star to Political Queen — and had become the latter’s confidante.

Former filmstar and powerful regional politician Jayaram Jayalalitha (C), leader of the opposition AIADMK party alliance, arrives with her companion Sasikala Natarajan (L) and an unidentified woman at a polling booth in Madras, May 10, 2001. Though polling for the state assembly was largely peaceful in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, violence plagued elections in India's insurgency-hit state of Assam. SK/PB - RTRI1OIFormer filmstar and powerful regional politician Jayaram Jayalalitha (C), leader of the opposition AIADMK party alliance, arrives with her companion Sasikala Natarajan (L) and an unidentified woman at a polling booth in Madras, May 10, 2001. Though polling for the state assembly was largely peaceful in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, violence plagued elections in India's insurgency-hit state of Assam. SK/PB - RTRI1OI

File image of Jayalalithaa (centre) and Sasikala Natarajan (right). Reuters

Vaasanthi, in fact, dedicates a chapter to the duo (see The Woman Who Knew Too Much) where she writes that a section of Jayalalithaa’s faithful supporters resented their very relationship — Jayalalithaa even declared Sasikala her “udanpiravaa sagodhari (sister not related through blood)” Sasikala and her relatives soon began to rein royal at the household, the press dubbed them the ‘Mannargudi mafia’. Rumours started flying around about Sasikala’s corrupt practices of acquiring land in and around Chennai and Thanjavur, movable and immovable properties.

Jayalalithaa, who had adopted Sasikala’s nephew Sudhakaran, announced his wedding (September 1995) to Sathyalakshmi, the granddaughter of actor Sivaji Ganesan — this naturally raised eyebrows. But more importantly, it gave rise to the infamous picture of Jayalalithaa and Sasikala dressed as twins, clad in garish golden-orange saris and decked in diamond splendour. The extravagant wedding consisted of 10 dining halls that could hold a capacity of 25,000 people; state machinery was royally misused with the TNEB being used to supply power to the hall, Metrowater tankers used to supply seven lakh litres of water and government vehicles employed for transport. Sudhakaran later distanced himself from his ‘aunt’, following which he accused “that side” of making threatening calls to him.

A decade later, AIADMK lost in the 1996 Assembly elections and Sasikala was arrested by the DMK government for violating the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act (FERA); Natarajan then pushed aside journalists in a dramatic moment, following which he was arrested. Jayalalithaa then distanced herself from her friend but soon came around a few months later.

But one of the biggest scandals that affected the duo is the Tansi land deal: The CBCID charged that the 3.78 acre-land in Chennai’s Guindy industrial estate, which belonged to Tamil Nadu Small Industries Corporation Limited or Tansi, was bought by Jaya Publications and Sasi Enterprises — where Jayalalithaa and Sasikala were shareholders — at a price lower than the market price, in 1991-92. This incurred a loss to the government. Judge S Thangaraj of Madras High Court announced that Jayalalithaa was acquitted. Ultimately, the Supreme Court in 2003 also acquitted Jayalalithaa in the case, reported Rediff.com.

On 19 December, 2011, Jayalalithaa expelled Sasikala, Natarajan and 12 of their relatives from the AIADMK’s primary membership, reports Frontline. This expulsion lasted a mere 100 days or so before Sasikala officially joined the AIADMK in 2000 and became a member of its general council.

Today, a weathered Sasikala, clad in a simple black sari, stands by her friend’s remains, perhaps wondering what the future sans Jayalalithaa might hold for her.

First Published On : Dec 6, 2016 09:01 IST

Jayalalithaa was an embodiment of women empowerment: Tamil Nadu Governor

Chennai: Tamil Nadu Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao on Monday paid rich tributes to departed Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, hailing her as an embodiment of women empowerment.

Jayalalithaa. AFP

Jayalalithaa. AFP

Jayalalithaa “stood as a symbol of dynamism, bravery and was known for sharp intellect,” he said at the swearing-in of O Panneerselvam as Chief Minister of the state following the AIADMK supremo’s death.

“Affectionately called as Amma, she was an embodiment of women’s empowerment and filled with indefatigable spirit. She was known for her noble qualities and sacrificed her life for the cause of the poor and downtrodden,” he said.

He said Jayalalithaa ‘struggled’ for more than two months in the hospital and fought death valiantly with her indomitable will power.

“It is sad that the clutches of death have snatched away the life of the leader of the masses,” Rao said.

He also recalled that she had affectionately received him when he came here to assume additional charge as the Tamil Nadu Governor.

Jayalalithaa’s passing away has caused an irreparable loss to the nation in general and Tamil Nadu in particular, Rao said.

“I express my sincere condolences from the bottom of my heart to the people of Tamil Nadu and pray to God to rest her soul in peace,” he added.

First Published On : Dec 6, 2016 08:58 IST

Jayalalithaa’s demise: US Ambassador to India Richard Verma condoles Tamil Nadu CM’s death

Jayalalithaa’s demise: US Ambassador to India Richard Verma condoles Tamil Nadu CM’s death

Chennai: US Ambassador to India, Richard R Verma, on Tuesday condoled the death of AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa.

File image of US ambassador to India Richard Verma (right). AFPFile image of US ambassador to India Richard Verma (right). AFP

File image of US ambassador to India Richard Verma (right). AFP

“Chief Minister Jayalalithaa will be remembered for her years of public service to Tamil Nadu and as a supporter of closer ties between the United States and India. Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Tamil Nadu during this time of sorrow,” he said in a statement.

Jayalalithaa, hospitalised since 22 September and who had suffered a cardiac arrest on Sunday, passed away on Monday night at 11.30.

First Published On : Dec 6, 2016 08:09 IST

O Panneerselvam sworn in as Tamil Nadu CM after Jaya’s death

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In his third stint in the top office, O Panneerselvam was on Monday night sworn in as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu hours after his predecessor and party supremo J Jayalalithaa passed away after a prolonged illness.A grim-faced Panneerselvam, who was also seen sporting a beard, was sworn in around 1.15 AM by Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao at the Raj Bhavan amidst a scene of gloom.After he took oath of office, a total of 31 Ministers, all of them members of the previous Jayalalithaa cabinet, took oath in a simultaneous swearing-in.Panneerselvam was administered the oath of office and secrecy by Rao, who air-dashed here from Mumbai yesterday after Jayalalithaa suffered a cardiac arrest.Panneerselvam (65), often hailed as Jayalalithaa’s ‘Man Friday’, took oath in the name of God.
ALSO READ AIADMK chief & Tamil Nadu’s beloved Amma J Jayalalithaa passes awayThis is the third time he is helming the state, acting as a stop-gap arrangement on earlier both occasions when Jayalalithaa was convicted in two separate corruption cases in 2003 and 2014.Earlier, AIADMK MLAs elected him as their Legislature Party Leader, paving the way for his elevation as Chief Minister.

Jayalalithaa is dead: A chronology of events leading to her return as CM

Chennai: Chronology of major milestones in the four-decade political career of AIADMK supremo and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa who passed away on Tuesday night.

24 June 1991: Sworn in Chief Minister for the first time after she leads AIADMK to a huge win in assembly elections.

May 1996: Amidst charges of corruption during its rule, AIADMK loses in the assembly elections. DMK returns to power.

File photo of Jayalalithaa. Reuters

File photo of Jayalalithaa. Reuters

11 July 1996: Then Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy files private complaint in a court accusing Jayalalithaa of amassing wealth worth Rs 66.65 crore disproportionate to her known sources of income during 1991 to 1996.

7 December: Jayalalithaa arrested. Charges of corruption, including accumulation of disproportionate assets, follows.

April, 1997: DMK Government sets up three special courts to try 47 corruption cases against Jayalalithaa, her former cabinet colleagues and others.

1997: Prosecution launched against Jayalalithaa, her close friend Sasikala and two others in a Chennai Court in DA case.

4 June 1997: Charge-sheeted in DA case.

1999: Discharged in coal import deal case by special court; upheld by Madras High Court.

2 February 2000: Special court convicts her in Pleasant Stay Hotel case related to permission granted for construction allegedly flouting rules.

October 2000: A special court in Chennai convicts Jayalalithaa in TANSI land deal case.

May 14, 2001: Jayalalithaa leads AIADMK to landslide win in assembly elections; Sworn in Chief Minister though she was disqualified to contest elections.

21 September 2001: Jayalalithaa unseated as CM after Supreme Court quashes her appointment as she was disqualified to contest polls due to TANSI case conviction.

4 December: Madras High Court acquits Jayalalithaa in the TANSI case and Pleasant Stay Hotel case.

21 February 2002: Jayalalithaa elected to Assembly in a bypoll from Andipatti constituency.

2 March: Jayalalithaa sworn in Chief Minister.

18 November 2003: On a petition by DMK, Supreme Court transfers the trial in DA case to Bengaluru.

24 November: Supreme Court upholds Jayalalithaa’s acquittal in TANSI case.

23 January 2004: Acquitted by a special court in the Rs 28.28 crore SPIC disinvestment case.

11 May 2006: AIADMK loses in assembly elections, DMK returns to power.

16 May 2011: Jayalalithaa leads AIADMK to victory in assembly polls; sworn in as Chief Minister.

October/November 2011: Jayalalithaa deposes in Bengaluru Special Court in DA case and answers 1,339 questions by judge.

27 September 2014: The Special Court holds Jayalalithaa and three others guilty of corruption, awards four years’ jail term to each, slaps Rs 100 crore fine on her, Rs 10 crore each on three other accused. Jayalalithaa unseated as Chief Minister after she attracts disqualification as an MLA due to the conviction.

18 October 2014: Jayalalithaa granted bail by Supreme Court, released from Bengaluru jail after spending 21 days.

11 May 2015: Karnataka High Court acquits Jayalaithaa.

22 May: Jayalalithaa elected leader of AIADMK legislature party.

23 May: Sworn in as Chief Minister for fifth time.

19 May 2016: Leads AIADMK to a record consecutive win in assembly elections.

22 September: Admitted to Apollo Hospitals with complaints of fever and dehydration.

2 Octtober: Hospital says CM being treated for infection, improving.

21 October: Hospital says Jayalalithaa interacting.

4 November: Hospital Chairman P C Reddy says Jayalalithaa “completely recovered”; she has to decide when to go home.

12 November: Apollo says Jaya needs recuperation, no date fixed for discharge.

13 November: In her first direct communication since her hospitalisation, Jayalalithaa says she has taken ‘rebirth’
because of people’s prayers; urges them to vote for AIADMK in the November 19 bypolls to three assembly constituencies.

19 November: Jayalalithaa shifted to private room from Critical Care Unit.

22 November: Jayalalithaa thanks voters for electing her party candidates in polls.

25 November: PC Reddy says Jayalalithaa speaking using tracheostomy tube valve.

4 December: AIADMK says AIIMS expert team confirms Jayalalithaa has recovered completely.

4 December: Jayalalithaa suffers massive cardiac arrest; put on extracorporeal membrane heart assist device.

5 December: Jayalalithaa passes away at 11.30 PM.

First Published On : Dec 6, 2016 03:50 IST

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