New Delhi: Former Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa’s close aide V.K. Sasikala is believed to have hinted at her return to the AIADMK in purported audio clips that have set political circles in the state abuzz.
The audio clips, which allegedly feature a conversation between Sasikala and an AIADMK member, have gone viral. In one of the clips, Sasikala said she will “definitely return” and “sort out” the problems in the AIADMK once the coronavirus situation improves.
In another audio clip, she is purportedly heard saying, “I will return soon, don’t worry. I am pained by their fights. We went through a lot of difficulty in developing this party, I am not able to see it go to waste. I will come soon. After corona reduces, I will meet you all. Stay brave.”
The audio clips come at a time when the AIADMK, which was voted out of office in this year’s assembly election, is courting reports of infighting between former chief ministers E. Palaniswami (EPS) and O. Panneerselvam (OPS). The party was founded by former CM and Tamil actor M.G. Ramachandran. Jayalalithaa was party supremo from 1989 until her death in 2016.
V.K. Sasikala, who was expelled from the AIADMK in 2017 following her conviction in a disproportionate assets case, was released from prison earlier this year. Upon her release, she got a resounding welcome as she drove from Bengaluru to Chennai, with many of her supporters showering her car with flower petals. However, just before the state elections in April, she announced that she was stepping aside from politics and appealed to all AIADMK cadres to work unitedly to defeat the “evil force DMK”.
A close aide of Sasikala’s nephew T.T.V. Dhinakaran, founder of AIADMK breakaway faction — Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK) — confirmed that the recording was of Sasikala herself.
“If it was not her, then she would have taken out a statement. It is definitely her,” the close aide said.
Not wishing to be named, the aide added that Dhinkaran had heard the recording.
ThePrint reached Dhinakaran by texts and calls but there was no response by the time of publishing this report.
Sources in the AIADMK confirmed that the audio clips featured party cadres. “She has a fair amount of support among the party cadres, they all want one consolidated leadership,” said a senior AIADMK leader who didn’t wish to be named.
While OPS said in March that Sasikala’s return to the AIADMK could be considered could join the AIADMK if she accepted the current set-up, a senior party leader told ThePrint that their doors were shut for her.
Also Read: ‘Traitorous’ AIADMK will be taught a lesson, aunt Sasikala is helping: AMMK founder Dhinakaran
‘No rift between EPS,OPS’
Since the elections, there have been reports of a rift between EPS and OPS, who served a stint as deputy CM under the former in the erstwhile AIADMK government, with the leaders issuing statements individually on some subjects.
Both were said to be claimants to the post of leader of opposition, but the position finally went to EPS.
Asked about the reports, senior AIADMK leader C. Ponnaiyan told ThePrint they were completely false and that there was zero tension between EPS and OPS. “Our house is completely clean and neat,” he said.
Addressing the buzz about Sasikala’s return to the AIADMK, Ponnaiyan said the party doors were shut to her, not just by leaders but by cadres as well.
“What is her intention, you will have to ask her but she cannot join any party — neither the BJP, nor the Congress, nor the DMK and certainly not the AIADMK,” he added.
He said it was an open secret that there is deep tension between Dhinakaran and Sasikala, and that Sasikala’s brother V. Divakaran and Dhinakaran are fighting for the same post.
“There are lots of problems in the AMMK. She should clean her house first before sorting out other houses,” he added.
Also Read: Sasikala learnt from Jayalalithaa the art of making comebacks. In retreat lies her politics