The fight for Jayalalithaa's legacy: Her niece Deepa to contest from RK Nagar seat

The much-anticipated announcements comes on the day she will unveil the name of her federation.
The fight for Jayalalithaa's legacy: Her niece Deepa to contest from RK Nagar seat
The fight for Jayalalithaa's legacy: Her niece Deepa to contest from RK Nagar seat
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On Jayalalithaa’s 69th birthday, Deepa Jayakumar announced that she will contest from her late aunt and former Chief Minister’s RK Nagar constituency.

Deepa’s much-anticipated announcement comes on the day that she launched her federation - MGR Amma Deepa Peravai. In an interview to Times Now’s Principal Correspondent Shabbir Ahmed, Deepa said, “I am starting a federation to consolidate AIADMK.”

Jaylalithaa’s niece has until now kept her cards close to her chest, setting off speculation that she was in backchannel talks with AIADMK interim General Secretary VK Sasikala. However, on February 14 Deepa surprised many by lending support to former Chief Minister O Panneerselvam during his political struggle with Sasikala over the reins of the AIADMK and the Tamil Nadu government. A dramatic synchronised move saw the duo pay floral tributes at Jayalalithaa’s memorial on the day of the Supreme Court’s conviction of Sasikala in the Disproportionate Assets case. 

However, on Friday, Deepa set the record straight telling Times Now, “I have or had no plans to join hands with OPS.”

Deepa’s decision to contest from RK Nagar, a seat that fell vacant following Jayalalithaa’s demise on December 5, comes a day after her brother Deepak hit out at the elevation of Sasikala’s nephew TTV Dinakaran in the AIADMK.  “Deepak speaking out is a ploy by Sasikala family to stop me from entering politics,” said Deepa, adding, “No one will accept TTV Dinakaran and anyone from Sasikala’s family.”  

Following Jayalalithaa’s death and Sasikala’s elevation to AIADMK chief, Deepa has seen her popularity soar among several AIADMK cadres and the public. Posters were put up in several parts of Chennai and Tamil Nadu hailing Deepa as Jayalalithaa’s true heir. 

Vikatan TV spoke to a number of residents at RK Nagar at the end of December, prior to the political turmoil in the AIADMK. While many saw Deepa as the true heir of Jayalalithaa, some others wanted Panneerselvam to stay on as CM. What was apparent in the small sample size was that the mood of the people at Jayalalithaa’s constituency was against Sasikala and her family.  

Deepa’s announcement to contest RK Nagar will now throw up a strong challenge for the embattled AIADMK. Whether the by-poll will in fact see a multi-contest remains to be seen with the O Panneerselvam camp yet to announce its plans, while the DMK may also throw its hat in the ring.  

Jayalalithaa contested from RK Nagar in North Chennai in the 2015 by-poll following her acquittal by the Karnataka High Court in the DA case. She was re-elected from the same constituency in the 2016 Assembly Elections.

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