In March 2021, VK Sasikala’s announcement that she will stay away from Tamil Nadu politics had come as a breather to the AIADMK leadership, particularly for Edappadi Palaniswami and O Panneerselvam.
But her increasing overtures to party leaders and cadres has had the AIADMK in a huddle, even expelling those who were in touch with her.
In the latest audio clip released by her camp, the former AIADMK general secretary is heard telling former MLA Kathirkamu that she had stopped the disqualification of 11 MLAs in 2017, including OPS.
Further, Sasikala is heard saying that she was told that plans are being made to expel OPS and 10 other legislators in the Tamil Nadu Assembly for voting against the EPS government.
Despite being on her way to prison, she sent word to the Speaker that the MLAs should not be expelled and that the party needs to be together.
She has also added that after the death of former Tamil Nadu CM and founder of AIADMK MG Ramachandran, the party had faced a similar situation and she had then also advised Jayalalithaa to keep the MLAs together.
The conversation, part of a series of audio clips being released by her team for over a month, aims to portray Sasikala as putting AIADMK over her personal ambition and her proximity to former Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalithaa.
After her nephew’s party AMMK failed to win a single seat in the Assembly polls, these conversations also seem to be aimed at telling the listener that she held complete sway over the party.
Sources close to Sasikala say that in an attempt to gain the trust of the leaders who are not office bearers, as well as AIADMK cadres, she plans to reach out to the old guard who have retired from active politics — leaders who were close to Jayalalithaa and MGR.
She reportedly called Karappu Maya Thevar, the 83-year-old leader from Dindigul who had first won an election on an AIADMK ticket in 1973. She has also called Pulavar Pulamaipithan, a tamil scholar and lyricist who had worked closely with MGR. Through these calls, Sasikala is trying to gain trust of leaders who held iconic positions in the party, a source said.
Sasikala’s roadmap is to project the current AIADMK leadership as anti-Jayalalithaa and MGR, the source added.
While EPS and OPS are trying to tighten their grip on the party, sending a message to anyone who still nurses a soft spot for Sasikala, she intends to send a message back by trying to portray them as usurpers of the party she built alongside Jayalalithaa.
She hopes to convince the cadres and a substantial number of leaders of this before she makes a bid to take over the reins of AIADMK, the source added.
(This article was first published in The News Minute and republished here with permission.)