Always seen as a shadow of Jayalalithaa and never heard in public, V K Sasikala, has emerged as her political heir to lead AIADMK which has had hugely charismatic figures at its helm in all its 45 years. Sasikala will take charge as General secretary of AIADMK on Saturday.
Blamed once for Jayalalithaa’s disastrous election loss in 1996, the 60-year-old, who was a video library owner before getting close to the late leader, was always considered having a clout in the running of the party.
Having accompanied Jayalalithaa to prison when arrested in a disproportionate assets case, Sasikala’s roller-coaster career saw her being expelled for anti-party activities only to be restored in a few months five years ago.
Here are the live updates:
#This government is people's government; We will go in the path shown by our Amma: Sasikala
#For the rest of my life I will live for my party and the crores of people. Amma's dream will continue for Tamil Nadu: Sasikala
#In those days Indira Gandhi was the only woman leader in politics but Amma broke the tradition and made history: Sasikala
#Akka(Jayalalithaa) did you go to kotai (fort St george)? Akka did you eat? I always kept thinking about her: Sasikala Natarajan
#My life is Amma, she struggled for 75 days but God called his loved child to him: Sasikala Natarajan
#Amma is not with us now but our party will rule here for the next 100 years: Sasikala Natarajan
#Sasikala Natarajan takes charge as AIADMK General Secretary; addresses party workers.
#Sasikala Natarajan pays tribute to former Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalithaa at AIADMK Office
#Supporters gather at AIADMK office in Chennai, Sasikala Natarajan set to take charge as General secretary of the party.
#Chennai: Sasikala Natarajan reaches AIADMK office, will take charge as General secretary of the party shortly
Supporters gathered at AIADMK office in Chennai, Sasikala Natarajan to take charge as General secretary of the party. pic.twitter.com/HmVf9mXAaJ— ANI (@ANI_news) December 31, 2016
Chennai: Sasikala Natarajan pays tribute to former Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalithaa at AIADMK Office pic.twitter.com/zLeqQ6qFDO— ANI (@ANI_news) December 31, 2016
Supporters gather at AIADMK office in Chennai, Sasikala Natarajan set to take charge as General secretary of the party. pic.twitter.com/glQtRXebCX— ANI (@ANI_news) December 31, 2016
Chennai: Sasikala Natarajan reaches AIADMK office, will take charge as General secretary of the party shortly pic.twitter.com/Kzy07aEUYR— ANI (@ANI_news) December 31, 2016
Jayalalithaa’s demise on December 5 was seen as a personal loss for Sasikala who was a permanent resident of Jayalalithaa’s house Veda Nilayam in Poes Garden, even choosing to stay away from her husband.
She continued to be by Jayalalithaa’s side when she was hospitalised on September 22 that stoked some controversies, including that access to the ailing leader was not being allowed even to her kin.
Sasikala belongs to the dominant Thevar community which also is said to have played a major role in O Panneerselvam, who is also from the same community, becoming the stop-gap Chief Minister whenever Jayalalithaa had to step down and even after her death.
An aspiring small-time entrepreneur offering video coverage services and allied products like video cassettes in the early 1980s, she got acquainted with Jayalalithaa in 1982 along with her husband M Natarajan through the then IAS officer VS Chandraleka.
When Jayalalithaa was organising a party conference in Cuddalore in 1982 - a new entrant to AIADMK then, it was Sasikala who had got the event video-graphed.
Similarly, she had got covered several of the party functions of Jayalalithaa which was the beginning of their association. Sasikala or ‘Chinnamma’ as she was later called remained a wall of support for Jayalalithaa through thick and thin over the next three decades.
In her much televised 1999 interview “Rendezvous with Simi Garewal”, Jayalalithaa had said Sasikala was targeted much because of her association with her.
She had even praised Sasikala as a “sister” who fulfilled the role of her late mother by taking care of her. This has been quoted by supporters of Sasikala to claim legitimacy to her ascending the top party post.
As early as 1989, through 1990 and 1991, many relatives of Sasikala began actively participating in AIADMK activities and several of them were seen supporting Jayalalithaa in protests organised by AIADMK then.
Sasikala caught the attention of media only after Jayalalithaa became Chief Minister for the first time in 1991.
(With inputs from agencies)