Tamil Nadu after Jayalalithaa: AIADMK women cadres split three ways

Chennai, Feb 11: Post Jayalalithaa, the all-powerful women cadres of AIADMK who used to throng the party headquarters and Jaya’s Poes garden residence are now missing in action.

With Jayalalithaa’ s niece J. Deepa, chief minister O. Pannerselvam and AIADMK general secretary Sasikala splitting the ruling party into factions, the women cadres have dispersed among all the three players. “The overwhelming support of women cadre had always been the hallmark of the AIADMK. Even our arch rivals would envy us. Unfortunately, our mass base among women has started eroding due to the demise of Amma”, observed Poonga Nagar Selvam, an AIADMK functionary in north Chennai.

While party women’s wing office bearers, elected women representatives and heavy weights like Gokula Indira and B Valarmathi are with Sasikala, Deepa has taken a good chunk of youth wing members (ilam pasarai) and Amma Peravai, another party wing comprising youngsters. Those aspiring for councillor seats, those affiliated with the party Information technology wing and a section of grass root women workers were found camping at the residence of Panneerselvam.
“Annan Panneerselvam and Madhusudhanan have been the loyalist of our party from MGR days and more than women councillors are now with OPS Annan” T Nagar councillor U. Karpagam told reporters. There also, fence sitters. “It’s a bad phase for the party, most of us have not decided on where to go. We will decide only when the issue settles”, said a woman councillor of harbour constituency wishing not to be quoted.

“We are with Chinnamma and will go with what party headquarters instruct,” said former councillor N. Sasikala of Ward 38 (New Washermenpet) coming under R K Nagar assembly constituency, adding that most of the party office-bearers are with Chinnamma. “Deepa resembles like our Amma and we are confident that she will jump into politics and join hands with Panneerselvam”, said S. Jayanthi, in her early 30s supporting Deepa.