For those who waited for the scene of V K Sasikala walking out of jail on January 27, fire in her eyes and fury in her steps, it was an anticlimax. The former aide of J Jayalalithaa was wheeled into a Bengaluru hospital with Covid-19 days before her prison term was to end. Now that she is out of the hospital, the next big scene would be a cavalcade screeching to a halt at House No. 179, Habibullah Road, T Nagar coming Sunday, and Sasikala stepping out of one of the cars. Will she wave at the gathering or will she greet them with folded hands? Will there be fire in her eyes?
Optics aside, what matters will be how she makes her second shot at politics. It’s not just the last additional ‘a’ from her name that Sasikala shed to come on her own after Jayalalithaa died on December 5, 2016. She took charge of Veda Nilayam and the party, but not for long. The Supreme Court verdict in the disproportionate wealth case soon took her away from the remaining comforts and sent her to the confines of the Parappana Agrahara prison in Bengaluru, where she served a four-year sentence.
Sasikala wasn’t righteous, but she was wronged. People she handpicked to be the chief minister and ministers backstabbed her. Those who fell at her feet till four years ago now treat her as an untouchable. Those who ate out of her hands are now baying for her blood. If the prison term hasn’t done something magical to her psyche, Sasikala isn’t going to be silent or subservient. The first clear indication to this effect came in the form of a full-page article in Namadhu MGR, now the mouthpiece of the AMMK led by Sasikala’s nephew T T V Dhinakaran that averred that Sasikala would reclaim the leadership of the AIADMK. Not many would have missed that when she left the Victoria Hospital in Bengaluru on Sunday, the flag on her car wasn’t that of the AMMK — it was of the AIADMK.
That, however, appears to be a tall order now. But for a lone former minister (Gokula Indira) and a few functionaries, nobody from the ruling party has expressed sympathies, leave alone support, for Sasikala. CM Edappadi K Palaniswami and several ministers have said she would have nothing to do with the party. But then, there are feelers that can’t be dismissed as blabber, though they come from people like K P Munusamy who on Sunday said the party may consider an apology from TTV for readmission.
Politics is a drama of surprises, but if Sasikala decides to be her old self, she has the potential to spoil the AIADMK’s plans. Besides having money power — which, however, may not match that of the resurgent AIADMK — Sasikala continues to hold considerable sway over sections of the thevar caste which has traditionally stood by the AIADMK. Today, the balance of power in the ruling party has shifted from the thevar community to the gounder community from which the chief minister hails. Deputy chief minister O Panneerselvam, a thevar, has not been able to expand his base beyond some Theni villages.
While EPS & Co, which runs the government in the name of Amma, has opened a Jayalalithaa memorial and a temple for her and MGR, it can never claim the proximity Sasikala had to the former AIADMK prima donna. Sasikala will silently project her incarceration as a penance, a punishment Jayalalithaa should also have undergone had she been alive. But what could ultimately fuel Sasikala’s revenge is her politically weak position.
Albert Einstein said weak people revenge, strong people forget, intelligent people ignore. If the father of the theory of relativity doesn’t make sense to Sasikala, American author Jodi Picoult, whose protagonists are mostly women, should. Picoult said, “When you begin a journey of revenge, start by digging two graves.”
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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