Tamil Politics In Twists & Turns

New Delhi/Chennai: Bizarre developments in Tamil Nadu have been confusing J Jayalalithaa’s admirers as well as her opponents. O Panneerselvan, who took over as chief minister for the third time on December 5, landed in Delhi to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi. After Panneerselvan and Thambidurai, Deputy Speaker of LOK Sabha asked Jayalalithaa’s close confidante to take over the party reins as its joint secretary, a group called Jayalalithaa Peravai passed a resolution on Sunday requesting Shashikala Natarajan to take over the government as well. About 50 leaders of AIADMK met Shashikala at Poes Garden residence, which she shared with the former chief minister for more than three decades, and handed over the resolution. The delegation included three ministers serving in the cabinet headed by Panneerselvan. Udhaykumar , secretary of Peravai, who is also a minister, gave her the resolution titled ‘ Thai Thanta Varma ( A boon granted by Amma). The leaders urged Shashikala to contest from RK Puram Assembly constituency which fell vacant on Jayalalithaa’s demise and replace Panneerselvan as chief minister. The two other ministers in the delegation areKadambur Raju and Savoor S Ramachandran.

The enigmatic Chinnamma has proved to be a silent but consummate player in the game of realpolitik. She has been steadily gaining ascendency vis a vis the incumbent who does not have a following in the party. Shashikala has got her husband other family members, who were banished by Amma, back into the Poes Garden building. She has been calling the shots ever since Jayalalithaa was admitted in Apollo Hospitals on September 22. All the visitors at the hospital met only Chinnamma and returned without having a glimpse of the ailing Amma. She has been controlling everything that belonged to Jayalalithaa. She had also performed Jaya’s last rites. That act alone made her the rightful successor in public eye.

It is impossible for Chief Minister Panneerselvan to face the challenge being thrown at him by Shashikala in her own way without the explicit and total support of the prime minister and his government. The BJP high command was understood to have toyed with the idea of making Thambidurai the CM of Tamil Nadu. The raids on Sekharareddy in Chennai, in which more than Rs 100 crore in new currency was seized, was considered to be a move aimed at clipping Shashikala’s wings to intimidate and disarm her. The bounty found with Sekharareddy, a member of the board of TTD, reportedly belonged to Shashikala. That ‘surgical strike’, however, did not deter the Chinnamma. She appears to be far more resourceful than what BJP high command imagined.

Both the chief minister and Shashikala belong to Thevar community. The other communities, the Gounders in particular, are unhappy. While many leaders of the grief stricken and shaken party feel that Chinnamma is the only person that can keep the folks together, some others consider the show of strength is organised and unbecoming of the ministers. Soon after Jayalalithaa’s death posters had come up all over Tamil Nadu showing Shashikala bigger in size than Jayalalithaa with Chinnamma strikingly resembling Amma.

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