In September 2017, the party had decided that the post of general secretary no longer exists in the AIADMK and that Jayalalithaa would be honoured as the permanent General Secretary

VK Sasikala paying respects at the MGR Memorial, wearing a green saree she can be seen smiling into the camera, a plate of laddoos in front of her
news Politics Sunday, October 17, 2021 - 19:29

Jayalalithaa’s ex-aide VK Sasikala unveiled a stone plaque that names her as the general secretary of AIADMK today at the MGR memorial, creating a stir. On October 16, Sasikala was seen at Jayalaithaa’s memorial on Marina Beach, paying her respects. It was her first visit to the site since her release in January this year from a Bengaluru prison where she has lodged since her conviction in the disproportionate assets case. Sasikala had been serving as temporary general secretary of the AIADMK following the demise of Jayalaithaa before her conviction. The party had also been thrown into chaos with factionalism rising after the former chief minister’s death, but was eventually resolved with Edappadi Palanisami and O Panneerselvam taking office as chief minister and deputy chief minister respectively. 

Sasikala announcing herself as the General Secretary of the party is significant as a General Body meeting of the party in September 2017 had decided that the post of general secretary no longer exists in the AIADMK and that Jayalalithaa would be honoured as the permanent General Secretary. The position of General Secretary was removed and new ones of coordinator and co-coordinator were introduced.

Sasikala’s return after four years of imprisonment is being keenly observed by many. It appears that she has aims to return to the frontlines of the party. Yesterday, at Jayalaithaa’s memorial she gave herself the title of Puratchi Thai in the tradition of the titles Puratchi Thalaivar and Puratchi Thalaivi that MGR and Jaya had been known by. Today, while raising the flag at the MGR memorial, she also unveiled a stone plaque in commemoration of the party’s golden jubilee. The plaque credits the flag hoisting to: VK Sasiskala, general secretary of the “kazhagam”. Further at a function held at the memorial itself she said “All of you here know the reason why I stood aside during the [assembly] elections. No harm should come to the party because of me. The divisions among us has helped our enemies. At this juncture, unity is important.” She also quoted from the song “Kanpone Pokkile” (lines that say that those who follow the right path will be successful) from the MGR-starrer Panam Padaithavan adding that “I don’t have to tell you for whom these lyrics would be applicable now.” She also claimed that she had ensured that the AIADMK came back to power before her incarceration.

Describing the party as a “temple” for each of them, she said that it was all of their duty to ensure that the “kazhgam” succeeds “for eternity.” She also added that the AIADMK had in the last 50 years been in power for 33 of them thanks to “love of the people”.

The Hindu reports that former minister M Anandan and former chief government whip PM Narasimhan were both present at the MGR memorial function.

While Sasikala held celebrations at MGR memorial, official celebrations took place simultaneously at the party headquarters in Royapettah. Speaking to media, AIADMK spokesperson D Jayakumar said, “Sasikala is calling herself ‘Puratchi Thai’ as if she has appeared from the heavens as a new avatar. What revolution has she done to call herself that? She has done ‘puratchi’ to benefit her family alone.” It would seem that the former minister was referring to the many allegations against her brother V Dhivakaran and the rest of the family often referred to as the 'Manargudi family'. People will also recall that Sasikala brought her nephew TTV Dhinakaran back in to the party, making him deputy general secretary, before she was sent to prison. Dhinakaran was later removed from the position by OPS and EPS.

Jayakumar has also said that the AIADMK will be taking legal action against Sasikala for hoisting the party flag and for calling herself the general secretary which he claims to be in direct violation of a previous court order and the Election Commission’s rules.

In her speech, Sasikala described MGR as the “seed” and Jaya as the “rain that made the AIADMK thrive as a party.” She further added “we have to realise the truth that if we don’t have the good of the cadres and the people in mind at all times, however high a position we may be in, it is possible for us to be cast down from there.”

Towards the end, she mentioned Janaki MGR. Sasikala said that after MGR’s death, when there was factionalism in the party, it was to the same Ramavaram Thottam residence (now converted into MGR’s memorial), that Janaki had invited her (Sasikala) and allegedly told her that the party has to be unified again. “It was later due to the immense efforts of Puratchi Thalaivi Amma that the party was able to return to power. Similarly, we have to work towards bringing back AIADMK-rule to the state. We have to become one, the party has to win.”

While its unclear if Sasikala wants to make peace with the official leaders of the party, it remains to be seen if the AIADMK is going to indeed take legal action against Sasikala as Jayakumar has stated that they will.