The Rise of CHIN­NAMMA

India Today - - COVER STORY -

Sasikala was born in Man­nar­gudi, a town in Tamil Nadu. Her par­ents be­longed to the in­flu­en­tial Kal­lar com­mu­nity. She was in­tro­duced to Jay­alalithaa in the early 1980s by then Cud­dalore district col­lec­tor V.S. Chan­dralekha

At that time, Sasikala ran a video cas­sette rental shop. Her hus­band had lost his job and the fam­ily was go­ing through a rough patch. As their friend­ship grew, Sasikala was en­trusted the task of film­ing all of Jay­alalithaa’s pub­lic events

Af­ter MGR’s death in 1987, Sasikala is said to have given Jay­alalithaa emo­tional sup­port. In 1989, she moved into Jay­alalithaa’s Poes Gar­den home, grad­u­ally tak­ing con­trol of AIADMK party af­fairs

A mile­stone in their re­la­tion­ship was the op­u­lent wed­ding Jaya or­gan­ised for Sasikala’s nephew, Sud­hakaran, in 1995

In 1996, the AIADMK lost the state elec­tions. Un­der a DMK-led gov­ern­ment, Sasikala was ar­rested on charges of vi­o­lat­ing the For­eign Ex­change Reg­u­la­tion Act. Jay­alalithaa dis­tanced her­self from Sasikala af­ter the ar­rest, but soon ties were re­stored

In 2011, Jay­alalithaa ousted Sasikala from her home af­ter re­ports that she was plot­ting to seize power in the event Amma was ar­rested on cor­rup­tion charges. Sasikala and 12 mem­bers of her fam­ily were ex­pelled from the party. She was rein­ducted in 2012

In 2014, both Jay­alalithaa and Sasikala were ar­rested in the Tansi land scam case. Sasikala was also asked to pay a fine of Rs 10 crore

Sasikala’s in­volve­ment in party af­fairs in­creased even more as Jay­alalithaa took ill in 2016. Af­ter her death, Sasikala’s ex­pelled fam­ily mem­bers made a come­back

Sasikala, who lays claim to Jay­alalithaa’s le­gacy, lacks the charisma of the late leader. But, af­ter Amma’s death, she ap­pears to be han­dling the party’s af­fairs deftly, keep­ing the flock to­gether so far


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