December 20th, 2011
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The end of mafia raj in Tamilnadu?

shashikalaChennai: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and General Secretary of AIADMK Jayalalithaa on Monday surprised all by expelling her close aide Sasikala, her husband Natarajan and 12 of Sasi-kala’s relatives from party’s primary membership. While Sasikala was a member of the AIADMK executive committee, others didn’t have any official posts. Sasikala and her associates are known all over Tamil Nadu as the Mannargudi Mafia. Mannargudi in Tanjavur district is Sasikala’s village. She belongs to the Thevar community, which is ‘well known’ for its aggressive nature on all issues.

Jayalalithaa has asked her party cadre not to have any dealings with these members. Political observers and intelligence officials believe the ouster was a fallout of Sasikala and her relatives’ unprecedented interference in government and party affairs. Chennai has been agog with rumours of an impending ‘palace coup’ to be staged from the CM’s Poes Garden residence. “There were reports that Sasikala and her relatives were planning to oust Jayalalithaa, and appoint Natarajan as the chief minister,” said a senior intelligence official. There were charges that transfer and postings of IAS and IPS officers were carried out at the behest of Sasikala and her relatives.

Sasikala was seen as Jayalalithaa’s conscience keeper. The CM was never seen without her close aide by her side in public. Interestingly, both were co-accused in corruption cases — the disproportionate assets case and TANSI land case. The build-up to the expulsion began with a visit from a long-time political advisor of Jayalalithaa last week.

Though Sasikala has been staying with Jayalalithaa for the last few weeks, she had shifted her own residence to a villa in East Coast Road owned by her nephew Bhaskaran. Last week, Sasikala met her relatives in Bangalore where she had gone to depose before a special court hearing the disproportionate assets case. This reportedly upset Jayalalithaa. The main reason for her anger was Sasikala meeting with Sudhakaran, whom Jayalalithaa had adopted only to disown later.

The fact that the global tender for the monorail project launched by the new government did not attract prominent bidders had shocked the chief minister. The bureaucrats concerned told her that the terms and conditions were changed to the whims and fancies of the Mannargudi Mafia.Though there are a number of MLAs belonging to the Thevar community, chances of them switching allegiance to Sasikala is remote. The 2011 assembly election too has proved Jayalalithaa’s popularity. Also, there is no No 2 in the party.

However, a veteran political commentator said that Jayalalithaa will face a serious political crisis soon as a majority of the AIADMK MLAs has been handpicked by Sasikala and Natarajan. “They will dance to the tunes of the husband-wife team; the chief minister is in for major trouble,” he said. But Rama Ramanathan, a senior AIADMK functionary, said, “Amma is the supreme authority in AIADMK, and the entire cadre stands by her because we know whatever she does is for the good of the party as well as Tamil Nadu,” he said.



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