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Amid EPS-OPS tussle, Sasikala signals return to AIADMK

VK Sasikala, the former AIADMK interim general secretary and close aide of late J Jayalalithaa who had surprised many in March saying that she will “step aside” from active politics, now seems to have revived her plan to control AIADMK.

Written by Arun Janardhanan | Chennai |
Updated: May 31, 2021 3:27:16 am
V K Sasikala (File photo)

VK Sasikala, the former AIADMK interim general secretary and close aide of late J Jayalalithaa who had surprised many in March saying that she will “step aside” from active politics, now seems to have revived her plan to control AIADMK.

Multiple sources close to Sasikala’s family and her former associates in the AIADMK said she is reconsidering plans to make a comeback considering the difference between top AIADMK leaders Edappadi K Palaniswami and O Panneerselvam.

Sasikala has made several calls to key leaders of her camp within the AIADMK in different districts in the last few days — some of these were leaked on social media. Sasikala was heard asking them to take care of their health and promising her return. She was heard consoling party workers while saying that she will make a comeback.

Meanwhile, the ruling DMK seems to be exploiting the rift, giving unusual prominence to Panneerselvam than opposition leader Palaniswami at government functions. While Chief Minister M K Stalin’s unusual gesture to invite Panneerselvam to his table during a tea party after the swearing-in ceremony had caught the attention of many, DMK sources said they would be doing anything that could possibly weaken the Palaniswami camp. “Looks like there will be fissures in the AIADMK in two months’ time,” the DMK leader said.

Admitting that there are talks about Sasikala’s possible return and consolidating power, a former minister of AIADMK said the widening gap between Palaniswami and Panneerselvam may be helping Sasikala in her latest plan. “Panneerselvam who had the support of 11 MLAs during the merger in 2017 is now left with just one MLA and an MP, his own son P Raveendranath Kumar. This is what helped Palaniswami consolidate his power in the party. We have to wait and see if people supporting Palaniswami would join the Sasikala camp even if they do not trust the leadership of Panneerselvam,” the former minister said.

Pending cases and poor health were earlier cited as reasons for Sasikala to withdraw from active politics and campaigns during the last Assembly polls.

While a source in her camp said she wasn’t actually reviving a political career but was only dialling people who were given appointments in last February to meet her in May, a close associate said she did call many people in the last few days. He said she is considering options to make a comeback in three months time.

“She calls at least seven to 10 people on a daily basis… Her message to them was clear about her coming back,” the source said.

However, being an ousted leader of the AIADMK that was defeated in the last Assembly polls, Sasikala’s reentry would be under the banner of her nephew TTV Dhinakaran’s Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK), a party that spoiled the chances of AIADMK even as it scored a vote share of just 2.35 per cent in the last Assembly polls.

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