Jayalalithaa’s niece mulls joining AIADMK (Roundup)

Chennai, Jan 17 (IANS) In a move that could worry AIADMK’s new leader V.K. Sasikala, late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa’s niece J. Deepa on Tuesday announced her decision to join politics but said she wasn’t sure whether she will enter the AIADMK or float a new party.

As her supporters raised slogans hailing her outside, Deepa told the media that she had no doubts about the circumstances surrounding the death of Jayalalithaa in December.

A graduate in English literature with a Masters in International Journalism from Cardiff University, Deepa said there were two views on her political journey.

“I need time to decide. Have to discuss with people. We have to get everybody’s views.”

She said she would announce her next course of action on February 24, the birthday of her aunt Jayalalithaa.

And in comments clearly directed at Sasikala, Deepa made it clear that she does not accept anybody other than AIADMK party founder, the late M.G. Ramachandran (MGR), and Jayalalithaa as the party leader.

She thanked her supporters and said she was not after Jayalaltihaaa’s property.

Claiming AIADMK cadres were with her, Deepa said she had not asked any other party for support and thanked the people for reposing confidence in her.

She said she would follow the footsteps of MGR and Jayalalithaa and would work for the welfare of the people.

Her relationship with Jayalalithaa was like that of a mother and daughter, she added, using words bound to upset Sasikala, a long-time aide to the late Chief Minister.

Deepa said Jayalalithaa’s death was a shock but before the shock could subside, changes had happened in the political space.

To a question whether AIADMK General Secretary Sasikala had invited her to join the party, Deepa replied: “No”.

Deepa avoided any anti-Sasikala remarks. Banners in Deepa’s support have come up all over the state.

The AIADMK said Deepa had made no attempt to join the AIADMK.

“The party has a procedure to become a member. Anybody can apply to become a member but the General Secretary decides whether an applicant can be admitted or not,” party spokesman Avadi Kumar told IANS.

“If Deepa comes with a demand, then it may be an issue.

“Anybody can become a member by registering online. But such a member is not eligible to stand for election for party posts,” Kumar added.

He said the party had temporarily stopped issuing new membership cards after Jayalalithaa’s death.

He declined to comment on Deepa’s admission, saying a decision would be taken by Sasikala.

“Anybody can float a new political party. But capturing power in the state by a third party other than the AIADMK or the DMK is not possible in Tamil Nadu,” Kumar added.

Political analyst Sumanth Raman urged Deepa to float a new party.

“If she intends to enter politics, she has only one option… floating a new party,” Raman told IANS. “Why would Sasikala allow the creation of another power centre in the party?”

Ramu Manivannan at the University of Madras also told IANS that Deepa in the AIADMK would prove a visible challenger to Sasikala.

After MGR died in 1987, the AIADMK split into two, with one faction supporting his widow Janaki and another Jayalalithaa. The party’s two leaves symbol was frozen.

Later, the two factions merged as Janaki realised that the party cadres and mass support lay with Jayalalithaa.