Having cut his teeth in the early days of AIADMK, E Madhusudhanan, the party’s Presidium Chairman who walked into O Panneerselvam’s home last week with his support, is a staunch MGR loyalist. He tasted power as a minister first during Jayalalithaa’s maiden government between 1991-96, but he made his way up the party thanks to his devotion to MGR. His loyalty to ‘Amma’ Jayalalithaa, albeit tested several times, was rewarded when he was made the Presidium Chairman in 2010. He has remained in the post ever since, perhaps showing that Jayalalithaa trusted him.
Today, the Amma loyalist stands opposed to ‘Chinnamma’ Sasikala, and has offered his support to O Panneerselvam in his battle to snatch the party away from Sasikala, and safeguard his government. At OPS’s residence, E Madhusudhanan, the number 2 in AIADMK’s hierarchy, sits down for a chat with The News Minute.
After days of incessant press meets and speeches, Madhusudhanan coughs as he speaks. "I am not well, need to go to the hospital," he says.
The criticism against him is that until he joined hands with OPS, he had vociferously supported Sasikala – and yet all his complaints with her go back long before OPS’s revolt.
"Over the years, these people (Sasikala family) have earned so much money. Look at where Natarajan lived in the 1990s, and look where he lives now. They have taken party's money and amassed wealth. My only intention was to ensure that party money is used for party. So, if she heads party, the family will use it for party, I thought," he says, defending his decision.
But, if Sasikala and family had amassed wealth over the years, why did leaders like him never raise their voice?
"They had all the power, how could we have opposed them?" he asks candidly. Yes, Sasikala has lived there for 30 years or so, but it does not belong to her. Amma had no wish to make Sasikala her political heir. But now she is claiming her rights over party and property," he alleges.
He seems unperturbed by the fact that only 6 MLAs apart from OPS have joined the caretaker CM in his revolt against Sasikala so far. Is the OPS camp losing momentum? No, he shoots back politely. “We know that many MLAs want to join us. It will take time for it to happen, but it will happen," he asserts confidently.
But whatever the count of the MLAs by his side may be, he emphasises that he can never accept Sasikala as their leader. "She may dress like Amma, sit in her car or occupy her chair, but she is not Amma.”
And the threat, according to him, is not just from Sasikala, but her family too. “The family is controlling all the affairs now. Cadres should never forget that Amma's bad time started only because of foster son Sudhakaran's wedding. He too was brought in by Sasikala,” he says, and adds as he fumes, "Dhivakaran, Dinakaran, Sudhakaran... there are many karans. Many of them are sitting in that house, dominating us.”
But this struggle is not new for Madhusudhanan, and it reminds him of his early political career. He says that the struggles they are facing today can be compared to the political situation in TN in the 1970s, "Most of you journalists are too young and haven't seen those struggles. I went to jail for protesting against a DMK council meeting. I see similarities between the two situations. When MGR broke away from the DMK, he had no MLAs with him, he has lakhs and lakhs of cadres. It's the same with OPS. Cadres make the party.”