Jayalalithaa breathed her last at 11.30 pm on Monday. She cant be forgotten ever and so is the ‘friendship’ between Amma and her companion Sasikala Natarajan. Her relationship with Amma was both tumultuous and rewarding. According to Sunday Guardian, the credit of introducing Sasikala to Jayalalithaa belongs to IAS officer-turned-politician VS Chandralekha, who hired Sasikala’s husband, R Natarajan as her PRO. Sasikala stood behind Jayalalithaa as her best friend and well-wisher during her three tenures as CM. When Jayalalithaa was arrested in 1996 in connection with colour TV scam, Sasikala also went behind the bars with her.
Vaasanthi in, Amma: Jayalalithaa’s Journey from Movie Star to Political Queen, writes that a section of Jayalalithaa’s faithful supporters resented their very relationship — Jayalalithaa even declared Sasikala her “udanpiravaa sagodhari (sister not related through blood)”. Sasikala and her relatives soon began to rein royal at the household. Natrajan hails from Mannargudi of Tanjore district. When she moved to Jayalalithaa’s home in 1989, it is said that she brought 40 servants from her hometown to Poes Garden to run Jayalalithaa’s house and they are often referred to as ‘Mannargudi Mafia’.
Amma also adopted Sasikala’s nephew Sudhakaran and announced his wedding to Sathyalakshmi, the granddaughter of actor Sivaji Ganesan. This raised many eyebrows. According to Firstpost, what was more striking was, it gave rise to the infamous picture of Jayalalithaa and Sasikala dressed as twins, clad in garish golden-orange saris and decked in diamond splendour. The wedding was lavish. It consisted of 10 dining halls. The State machinery was royally misused with the TNEB being used to supply power to the hall, Metrowater tankers used to supply seven lakh litres of water and government vehicles employed for transport.
Tansi land deal affected the duo badly. “The CBCID charged that the 3.78 acre-land in Chennai’s Guindy industrial estate, which belonged to Tamil Nadu Small Industries Corporation Limited or Tansi, was bought by Jaya Publications and Sasi Enterprises — where Jayalalithaa and Sasikala were shareholders — at a price lower than the market price, in 1991-92,” reports Rediff.com.
On 19 December 2011, Jayalalithaa expelled foster son V N Sudhakaran, Sasikala Natarajan and 13 others including her husband Natarajan and other relatives from the AIADMK. However, Jayalalithaa admitted Sasikala Natarajan back into the party on March 31, 2012. This was only after Sasikala Natarajan pledged to sever her ties with all her relatives and to serve without nursing any public ambitions. Sasikala along with Jayalalithaa and two others was sentenced to 4 years imprisonment by a special court in Bangalore on 27 September 2014. Along with imprisonment, they were also asked to pay fine of Rs 100 Crores for Jayalalithaa and Rs 10 Crores for Sasikala and others.T hey were acquitted by High Court as they were found to be not guilty.
It is being said that O Panneerselvam is just the CM face. Behind the throne is Sasikala Natarajan. “Both Panneerselvam and Thambidurai will never go against the wishes of Amma. In her absence, they will listen to Chinnamma (Sasikala) provided they are given deserving posts. Sasikala will be the power centre who will have the controls from the Poes Garden residence of Jayalalithaa,” a party MP told Indian Express.
Standing near deceased ‘Amma’ wiping away her tears, will she want to take “Amma’s” place? This question can only be answered with time!