'Mannargudi mafia', a moniker used to describe AIADMK (Amma) General Secretary VK Sasikala's family. A family spread over many districts, that has its tentacles in almost every realm of administration.
"Yes, we are the Mannargudi mafia, but we are here to counter the DMK mafia. It was a nickname given to us by MK Stalin. He was the first one to call us like that. We don't mind someone calling us mafia, but who is Stalin to do that? I don't know by which year, but during an election campaign, he was the first one to call us that," Jeyanandh Dhivaharan said.
In an interview to India Today's Priyamvatha P, Sasikala's nephew Jeyanandh Dhivaharan, claimed that Edappadi Palaniswami was not distancing himself from the family.
The ruling AIADMK faction under Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami has been going to great lengths to distance Deputy General Secretary TTV Dhinakaran from the party. The graft accused leader has even been excluded from the AIADMK's Iftar party on June 21. But none of these signs seem to have perturbed Sasikala's family that claim the party is controlled by AIADMK General Secretary VK Sasikala.
"I don't think he is distancing himself from the family. We are distancing ourselves from the party. For the time being, we are distancing ourselves because he is the Chief Minister of Tamil nadu. He is functioning in his own way. So let him function. I think there are many officials to guide him. So there is no need to for us to guide him. If needed, we can give him advice," he explains.
He further dismissed allegations of ministers distancing themselves from Sasikala. "When EPS became the Chief Minister, Sasikala told him to function independently. She is not going to dictate anything (to him). She is going to run the party. She is still the General Secretary and she has to run the party," he maintained.
When asked about the merger between both factions of the party, Jayanandh said it is unlikely.
"Merger talks were initiated because we did not want to lose the 10 per cent MLAs. But if they (O Panneerselvam-led faction) are not willing to join, we don't really care for that 10 per cent," he says. "We don't even know if they have the support of the 10 per cent MLAs they claim to have," he adds. He however maintained that the doors are still open for OPS to join the MLAs led by Sasikala.
As far as Jayalalithaa's health and videos of her in the hospital are concerned, Jeyanandh maintained that, "The general secretary has to say if she has a video or not. She should say that first. If she says yes, then definitely she will give it if the need arises."
What more, the family seems optimistic that a review in the Supreme Court will be in favour of Sasikala. "We didn't expect that the judgement will come against her because if you go through the judgment you can see there are lots of flaws. According to me I can see a lots of flaws in that; since the A1 is not there, you cannot convict the A2, A3, A4 just like that," he says.
He however added that there seems to be no external pressure that led to this judgement. "It may be a mere assumption by the general public or by the AIADMK cadets. We don't think that there is an actual pressure. Let's wait for the review."