After the death of Indian politician Jaya Lalitha, Sasikala Natarajan has been appointed as the general secretary of the regional AIADMK party. Jayalalitha passed away in December 2016 after prolonged illness. Sasikala’s journey started from being a homemaker to a trusted friend of one of the most powerful women in Indian politics.
Natarajan, also known as ‘Chinnamma’ (younger mother), has been with Jayalalitha for about three decades and was seen with the former chief minister on the public platforms. Though Sasikala was never given a formal role by Jayalalitha in the party or the state government, she just remained as her aide and confidante. The death of Jayalalitha has given Sasikala an opportunity that she never had.
Sasikala is now the in-charge of the AIADMK, the party that has ruled Tamil Nadu for about 25 years out of 40 years. Natarajan was born in a middle class family and spent her early years in Thanjavur district. She got married to M Natarajan, who worked as a public relations officer in the state government. However, Natarajan lost his job during the 1975 emergency after which Sasikala started a video rental business to support her family. She was introduced to Jayalalitha by a civil servant. Sasikala started visiting Jayalalitha’s residence to provide video cassettes to her and this relation soon blossomed in to a strong friendship. During late 80s, Sasikala moved in to Jayalalitha’s home at a time when she was fighting a political battle to have a full control of the AIADMK after the death of her mentor M G Ramachandran.
The friendship deepened when Jayalalitha adopted Sasikala’s nephew V N Sudhakaran as her foster son. Sudhakaran’s wedding with Tamil cinema legend Sivaji Ganesan’s grand daughter in 1995 made national headlines. Sasikala in years has gained experience in handling sensitive party issues but the critics say that she is yet to improve.
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