Anti-climax: Deepa Jayakumar calls press meet to announce future announcement

While Jayalalithaa’s long-time aide VK Sasikala has assumed the reins of AIADMK, some party supporters have looked to Deepa as an alternative
Anti-climax: Deepa Jayakumar calls press meet to announce future announcement
Anti-climax: Deepa Jayakumar calls press meet to announce future announcement
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Draping a red shawl around her shoulders, Deepa Jayakumar fashions herself like her late aunt and Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, as she stakes a claim to her legacy. Her supporters see in Deepa more than just a striking resemblance to Jayalalithaa, they believe that their “Amma’s” blood runs in her veins, giving her legitimacy as her true heir.

More than a month after former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa passed away, her niece Deepa Jayakumar on Tuesday announced in a much hyped press meet that was beamed live on television channels that she has officially entered politics. However, contrary to expectation, Deepa refrained from making any commitment on a new political party and deferred the announcement.

"I will announce my next plan on Jayalalithaa's birthday," she said.

The timing of her declaration to enter politics coincides with the centenary anniversary celebrations of late CM and AIADMK founder MG Ramachandran.

On Tuesday morning, Deepa paid respects to the MGR memorial in Chennai. Hundreds gathered outside her house in T Nagar as she got ready to make her big announcement.

"Lot of changes have happened in Tamil Nadu politics. People, especially young people demanded that I should enter politics. I wish to protect the belief that people have placed on me," Deepa said. She added that she could not accept anyone except MGR and Jayalalithaa as leaders. 

Deepa who has been in the media limelight ever since Jayalaithaa fell sick also said that the real followers of the late Chief Minister wanted her to enter politics. "I am starting a new chapter on MGR's centenary birth anniversary. History will prove our victory."

Speaking to reporters, Deepa denied that she was being supported by the BJP, stating, " I have not begun talks with anyone so far."  She observed that she had two options before her - to joing the AIADMK or launch her own party. However she would make an announcement only after consulting with the cadre and public. 

Pressed on by the media as to why the delay in making an announcement, she stated:  

This press meet comes a week after Deepa declared that she had decided to take the plunge into politics. Speaking to reporters at “Sandhya Illam”, her T Nagar residence in Chennai on January 9, she had said, “I represent new generation politics, we definitely need a change. We need politics which will address the concerns of the present society and pave the way for a better future.”

Following Jayalalithaa’s death on December 5, AIADMK’s senior leaders rallied around her long-time aide VK Sasikala, urging her to take over the party. This even as sections of the cadre expressed their anger against Sasikala, blaming her for Jayalalithaa’s death, questioning her leadership skills and her family’s political interference.  And while Sasikala was elevated to party chief at the end of December, several functionaries looked to Deepa as a possible alternative.

Over the last few days, posters have sprung up in several parts of Tamil Nadu, announcing Jayalalithaa’s niece as the “true heir”, “Junior Amma”, and “Ilaya Puratchi Thalaivi” (young revolutionary leader), even as her supporters took creative liberty in morphing Deepa’s face with that of her aunt’s.  

Forty-two-year-old Deepa Jayakumar, Jayalalithaa’s brother’s daughter, has until very recently lived a life of oblivion. With an MA in International Journalism from Cardiff University in the UK, Deepa came into the media spotlight when she was barred from entering Apollo Hospitals, where the late CM had been admitted. Following her demise, Deepa was also prevented from visiting Jayalalithaa’s Poes Garden residence, where her aunt’s body had been kept, prior to the funeral.  

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