Former Jayalalithaa aide and ex-AIADMK interim General Secretary VK Sasikala, who was expelled from the party following her arrest and jail term, is now seemingly planning a comeback, even as a major section of the party led by former Chief Minister K Palaniswami is strongly opposing her entry. Sasikala will be touring Ramanathapuram and Madurai on Friday, October 29, and is expected to pay her respects to U Muthuramalinga Thevar, regarded an important figure to the Thevar caste-cluster. She is also expected to garland the statues of Thevar and Marudu Pandhiar brothers in Madurai.
The tour of Sasikala is considered a move to get back into the party with the support and blessings of the community to which she belongs. The AIADMK itself seems divided over Sasikala and her repeated moves to gain a foothold within the party. The first inclination that Sasikala may receive support had come from former Chief Minister and current co-coordinator of the party, O Panneerselvam, who is also from the Thevar community. OPS had stated on Monday in a press conference held in Madurai that the re-entry of Sasikala is to be decided by the party high command after discussions.
He had further added that anyone can enter politics, but it was left to the public to accept them. Only days earlier, EPS had stated that there was no question of Sasikala coming back to the party. Several other party leaders also have come out in the open against Sasikala's re-entry with senior leaders D Jayakumar and KP Munnuswamy stating that there was no place for her in the party. AIADMK official leadership had even filed a police case against her for identifying herself as the party's general secretary on a commemorative plaque she had unveiled at the MGR memorial during the party‚Äôs golden jubilee celebrations.
While EPS and his associates are opposing Sasikala for now, the surprise stand taken by OPS, people think, may also be related to the caste connection. Not many other southern Tamil Nadu leaders have come out in support of Sasikala. Political observers believe this may be due to a lack of clarity on whether she has the support of a larger cross-section of the general public.
‚ÄúSasikala has not got the support she intended to get but the statement of OPS that party high command would decide on her entry is a shot in the arm for her. This statement is naturally due to the support she has in the Thevar community which is a big political force in southern Tamil Nadu and OPS being a member of the community cannot oppose it. However, no other leader of stature has aired open support for her but opposition to her entry is heavy with leaders like EPS, Munuswamy, Jayakumar, and CVe Shanmugham openly opposing her coming back,‚ÄĚ Chennai think tank Centre for Policy and Development Studies Director C Rajeev told IANS.
With IANS inputs