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HomePoliticsFranky, it is difficult to see why Sasikala should not become Tamil Nadu CM

Franky, it is difficult to see why Sasikala should not become Tamil Nadu CM

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Everything appears to be set. In the next few days Sasikala Natarajan or VK Sasikala, as she is now being styled, will take over control of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIDMK). She will do this in the form of becoming General Secretary of the party, a post her late patron J Jayalalithaa held for nearly three decades. VK Sasikala has been a long time companion of the late Jayalalithaa and by virtue of her proximity to high command has acquired a degree of control of party institutions (TV channels and – believe it or not – Twitter accounts!). Going by her moves in the last couple of weeks since Jayalalithaa’s death we can clearly see that she has political ambitions of taking over the party and perhaps even the government as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu.

But many scoff at such an idea.

How could VK Sasikala usurp the Chief Ministership? It would be an affront to the dignity and gravitas of the institution if it were to be occupied by someone so unqualified, they argue. While Jayalalithaa was the popularly acclaimed leader who managed to garner 40+ per cent vote share across Tamil Nadu, Sasikala is a nobody, right? All that she was to be Jayalalithaa’s companion and they’ll make her Chief Minister just because of that? What has Tamil Nadu come to, they wonder.

But, dear reader, this is the voice of the snobs who have somehow elevated Jayalalithaa to super-human status after her death. This voice of derision and condescension is just that – derision and condescension. It is the all familiar insecurity of Indian who will see good in the person of a suave, polished English speaking mass leader but somehow assumes the mofussil chap is less qualified. It is the voice of the average Indian who will quickly forgive and forget the faults of a dead ‘big leader’. Noticed the absence of any reference to the rampant corruption, degeneration of the state’s administration in the effusive obits that came out?

Come to think of it. What has Jayalalithaa done that made her qualified to be CM that Sasikala already hasn’t? Unless you argue being a Tamil film super star is that all important qualification it is difficult to understand how Jayalalithaa is so different from Sasikala. Let’s try comparing the two for a moment.

Frist, both have been charge-sheeted and convicted by lower courts for charges of disproportionate income. The conviction has been stayed by higher courts but there has been no acquittal yet, mind you. Both have benefited immensely by their access to power and you know it. One is no better than the other when it comes to corruption.

Second, Sasikala can’t be worse than Jayalalithaa in running her government. Remember Jayalalithaa’s arbitrary and abrupt changes in her cabinet? Jayalalithaa changed cabinet ministers at her whim and fancy, sometimes many times in a year, nobody could or did ask her why. How could Sasikala be worse than this? When you’ve hit the bottom of the barrel the only way you can go is up, right?

Third, Sasikala’s control over the party seems complete in the sense that she already has party people prostrating at her feet. Jayalalithaa’s control of the party too was so complete that open, public prostration at her feet by Cabinet ministers was a pretty common sight. Jayalaithaa even had the Chief Minister of the state bow to her in all humility.

Fourth, the law and order situation in Tamil Nadu is not going to get worse. The Mannargudi mafia – as the family of VK Sasikala is referred to in Tamil media, was already in control of many state organs and for all practical purposes were running the government in the last few months if not years. One could argue that the absence of Jayalalithaa would leave these operators without any fear, but surely if Sasikala had any long term plans she’ll see to it that things will remain in control? Many did trust Jayalalithaa under whose reign an IAS officer was attacked with acid, right?

So let’s try this again.

Jayalalithaa could keep her party in control, make leaders prostrate at her feet, wrote eloquently worded letters to the central government, was a very average stage speaker, was corrupt, was convicted, and the general public were okay with this.

Sasikala appears to be in control of the party, makes leaders prostrate at her feet, has written eloquently worded letters to central leaders, has not spoken much in public, was convicted of the same charges as Jayalalithaa was. But the people are now angry at her becoming CM?

Clearly, we are letting Jayalalithaa off too easily or holding Sasikala to much higher standards than Jayalalithaa. I suspect it is the latter.

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