Who was M Natarajan? Know the curious tale of Sasikala’s husband

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Updated: March 20, 2018 12:37:47 PM

Natarajan's story of rising to power from a small village and developing proximity with top politicians in Tamil Nadu is often narrated with much interest in political circles of the state.

In fact, it was Natarajan, not Sasikala, who had close relations with M Karunanidhi and J Jayalalithaa.

M Natrajan, the husband of jailed AIADMK leader VK Sasikala, passed away on Tuesday. He was 76. Natarajan’s story of rising to power from a small village and developing proximity with top politicians in Tamil Nadu is often narrated with much interest in political circles of the state. In fact, it was Natarajan, not Sasikala, who had close relations with M Karunanidhi and J Jayalalithaa.

Born in Vilar village in Tamil Nadu’s Thanjavur district, Natarajan rose to fame during his participation in 1965 anti-Hindi agitations. As a student of BA, he got the attention of many DMK leaders. Later, in 1973, Natarajan was appointed as state’s Public Relations Officer by the then Chief Minister M Karunanidhi. Same year, he got married to VK Sasikala, and famously, Karunanidhi presided over his marriage. As the power was switched in the state, Natarajan was able to save his place even in AIADMK regime, when MG Ramachandran took over as the chief minister of the state.

Reports in Tamil Nadu-based newspapers claim that Natarajan was able to wield strong influence in the AIADMK in early 1980s. Due to his strategy making skills, Natarajan developed a closeness with MGR and soon started participating in party’s key affairs. When AIADMK split in 1988, Natarajan sided with Jayalalithaa’s flock and was reportedly instrumental in getting her installed as the chief minister. He maintained his closeness and worked as the ‘manager-at-large’ for the party in Jaya era.

Mannargudi story and breaking of ties with Jayalalithaa

It was alleged that Natarajan got his close associates installed at top party posts. The people who belonged to Natarajan’s coterie were given a collective name of ‘Mannargudi group’ or as infamously by the opposition as, Mannargudi Mafia. In 1991, Jayalalithaa took over the reigns of Tamil Nadu for the first time. In a famous incident, Jayalalithaa openly accused Natarajan of trying to send a message that he was managing the affairs of the AIADMK and banned his entry to her Poes Garden residence. However, Sasikala stayed with Jaya.

Meanwhile, in all these years, people who belonged to Sasikala’s camp kept joining AIADMK and were given important posts in the party. In 2011, Jayalalithaa accused a group of influential leaders from Mannargudi, along with Sasikala, of having indulged in anti-party activities. The ex-Tamil Nadu Chief Minister cut her ties completely with the said groups in the party and expelled them from the party. Here, Sasikala abandoned her family and chose to stay with Amma. Sasikala was back with Jayalalitha within 100 days.

Natarajan remained behind the curtains in later part of life. He was suffering from prolonged illness at the time of his death.

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