Events in Tamil Nadu in 2017 show how power undermines ethics and shame in politics Politics in Koll

9 February 2018 12:00 am - 1     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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The rapidity of the turn of events in Tamil Nadu after the death of Jayalalithaa is interesting

TN leaders who provoke Sri Lankan leaders seem to have almost forgotten their southern neighbour

Sasikala was sacked from AIADMK by those who were prepared to vote her into power a year ago

OPS-EPS form a coalition; seem to work against Sasikala

The rapidity of the turn of events in Tamil Nadu, the southern State of India during the past one year, after the death of Jayalalithaa Jayaram, the powerful Chief Minister of State, is amazing and also interesting.


The politicians in the State, who had been always provoking the Sri Lankan leaders and the Sinhalese in the island seem to have almost forgotten their southern neighbour as they are deeply preoccupied with the unfolding events in their own State, that further and further deepen the instability of the administration of the State.


Even when Sri Lankan authorities took steps to enact laws imposing heavy fines for the trespassers into the Sri Lankan waters did not provoke Tamil Nadu politicians or the fishermen in the State to demonstrate or to take any other drastic action against it as they did earlier.
Only Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswamy wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi requesting the latter to prevail upon the Sri Lankan leaders to withdraw the law.


Many incidents had taken place in Tamil Nadu after the death of Jayalalithaa. A point is that the level to which people can stoop due to greed for power and privileges and remind us of interesting parallels in Sri Lanka, which we cannot discuss during the 48 hour “silence period” prior to Saturday’s Local Government elections in Sri Lanka.


Jayalalithaa’s close friend, Sasikala Natarajan, commonly known as V.K. Sasikala, who was preparing to succeed Jayalalithaa a year ago is now languishing in jail as she was found guilty and sentenced to four years in prison in the verdict of a disproportionate assets case.
She was sacked from the all-powerful General Secretary of ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) by those who were prepared to vote her into power a year ago at the confidence vote in the State Assembly, once her name was proposed.


Edappadi Palaniswamy, the man who was appointed Chief Minister according to her choice, when she was convicted in the disproportionate assets case too has now turned against her and her group was deprived of the party symbol, the “two leaves” as well by the court.
O. Panneerselvam, the man whom she forced to resign as the Chief Minister in order to give way for her and was sacked by her from the treasure of the AIADMK is now again in the party fold teaming up with the Chief Minister, who was her choice for the post. Panneerselvam, commonly known as OPS is the Deputy Chief Minister of the State now and more than a hundred places, houses and estates belonging to or connected to Sasikala have been searched by police for illegally amassed wealth, under the OPS-EPS (Edappadi Palaniswamy) administration.


Jayalalithaa, who was affectionately and respectfully called Amma even by the elders of her party, was so powerful in her party as well as the State Government that her Ministers knelt down before her to worship her. Sasikala, due to her longtime intimate association with and being the confidante of Jayalalithaa was then called Chinnamma (Aunt) and also given almost a similar respect and affection by the party supporters. It was she who was with Jayalalithaa throughout the 75 days the latter was at the Apollo Hospital in Chennai and at her deathbed.


Chinnamma was neither a party member nor a member of the State Assembly when Jayalalithaa died on December 5, 2016.Yet, she became even more powerful after her close friend’s death even to occupy Jayalalithaa’s official residence, Poes Gardens and senior leaders of the party, Ministers and Members of Parliament had been so unashamed to publicly request her to lead the party.


She wielded such a power and had built such an image for her that even President Maithripala Sirisena had sent his condolences over Jayalalithaa’s death to her, who did not hold any post in the party or in the Tamil Nadu Government then, according to Indian media.
The special emissaries of President Sirisena, former Minister Arumugan Thondaman and Uva Provincial Minister Senthil Thondaman met her instead of meeting Chief Minister Panneerselvam to convey President Sirisena’s condolence message. Also, President Sirisena had obliged to a request by Sasikala, an ordinary citizen then to increase the number of Tamil Nadu devotees for the opening of a new church building in Kachchathivu from 20 to 100, the Indian media said.


OPS had been appointed Chief Minister at Jayalalithaa’s behest when she was in hospital as he had been her most trusted lieutenant in the government then and had stepped in for her three times in her absence before her death.


Sasikala craftily persuaded him first to propose her for the powerful General Secretary post of the party, the AIADMK and then to resign as the Chief Minister.


Despite her being not a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) she was appointed as the leader of the Assembly Group of the party to be appointed as the Chief Minister, using certain provisions of the Indian Constitution.


However, Panneerselvam woke up from his deep moral slumber two days after his resignation to see that he was going to be a political destitute and dropped a bombshell at the Jayalalithaa Samadhi (tomb) at the Marina Beach, by stating that he was forced to resign by Sasikala and her men and that he would fight back.


Alarmed by the new development Sasikala took all party Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs) to the Golden Bay Hotel in Koovathoor near Chennai to be incarcerated until the Assembly vote on her appointment as the Chief Minister was held.


Some Tamil Nadu media said that they had been prevented from using any kind of telephones, televisions, newspapers. The reports also said that even habeas corpus petitions had been filed on behalf of five incarcerated MLAs, by their relatives.


Then Sasikala requested the State’s Governor Vidyasagar Rao to administer her swearing in as the Chief Minister, but the Governor was noncommittal.


In fact, he had to oblige as she had then been appointed as the leader of the ruling party of the State Assembly, despite the modus operandi she used to take control of the party and its MLAs. He seemed to have waited for the court ruling in the disproportionate assets case against her.
The court ruled that she be imprisoned for four years. She named EPS as Chief Minister which was approved by party MLA, except for five who supported the deposed OPS. However, OPS’s support base grew day by day and EPS, sensing a danger of losing the majority in the Assembly sent feelers to OPS for a merge of the two groups.


OPS agreed with a condition to oust Sasikala from the post of General Secretary of the AIADMK.


Then Sasikala’s nephew T.T.V. Dinakaran revolted against the OPS-EPS coalition with both rival groups claiming the party leadership and ludicrously sacking each other from party posts.


However, the OPS-EPS coalition won the battle in the court and nullified the appointment of Sasikala as the General Secretary of the party and the appointments made by her in the party including that of Dinakaran.a


A tussle for the party symbol also developed in the meantime in which too OPS-EPS group succeeded. Then a mass- scale search operation was launched in more than hundred places belonging to and associated with Sasikala for illegally amassed wealth.


Besides, an investigation was initiated into the circumstances of Jayalalithaa, which has been a hot topic in the State now. The Tamil Nadu media hint that the Central Government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been the saviour of OPS who was on the verge of political oblivion a year ago.


The interesting part of the story is that the majority of AIADMK members of the State Assembly who venerated Jayalalithaa Jeyaram when she was alive and in power later supported Sasikala when she was about to grab power in the State. And they now strangely want to implicate Sasikala, even in the death of Jayalalithaa.

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  • Steve Creech Friday, 09 February 2018 08:04 PM

    Great article. The internal, internecine machinations of the AIDMK no doubt contributed to the success of the ongoing campaign by northern Sri Lankan small scale fishermen to end illegal fishing by TN trawlers in Sri Lankan waters. Jayalalithaa’s almost admirable, effective use of the issue locally / nationally was a key obstacle to resolving the issue in favour of the Sri Lankan fishermen. The change in government from Congress coalition to BJP majority first weakened JJ's influence. Her timely death, at least from a northern sri lankan fishermen's perspective, further contributed to the marginalisation of the issue. MSM Ayub politely omits an reference to the widely rumoured 'relationship' between JJ and Sasikala, which the latter used as the basis for her sudden, surprising and rather short lived rise to power. The issue of Tamil Nadu trawlers fishing illegally in Sri Lankan waters is not yet resolved; the amendment to the act is yet to be used, but the end game draws near...


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