CHENNAI: An emissary close to the BJP and another person, who is a family member of V K Sasikala, persuaded her to back off from opposing the AIADMK-led alliance and come out with a statement for unity of “Amma’s people” and defeat the “common enemy DMK”, multiple sources told TOI.
An AIADMK leader said the emissary whom the party approached had roped in Sasikala’s relative, “who is not a member of any political party”, to convince her. Two more sources also said the mediator approached Sasikala through some of her family members to impress upon her that she should back off in the larger interest of the party nurtured and strengthened by Jayalalithaa. He urged her to extend moral support and not to dent its prospects by backing her nephew and AMMK leader T T V Dhinakaran and discrediting the AIADMK leadership.
On Wednesday, Sasikala sprung a surprise by issuing a statement that she was “staying away from politics”. Without attributing any reason for her decision, she appealed to “true followers” of Jayalalithaa to stay united and work towards victory in the election. She mentioned neither the AIADMK nor the AMMK by name. On her return from Bengaluru on February 9, Sasikala had vowed to enter active politics. She has been issuing statements on a letterhead that had a picture of the AIADMK flag and signed by her as the AIADMK general secretary. The Wednesday statement was on a plain sheet of paper and merely signed ‘your’s affectionately, V K Sasikala’.
“We pointed out to her that it would be belittling for her to take on midget leaders,” the emissary told TOI. “And, by backing her nephew she would be promoting a family member which is in clear contradiction to the AIADMK-BJP campaign denouncing dynastic politics.” But what clinched it finally, said a source, was the intervention of a family member who agreed with the emissary’s arguments.
A Sasikala associate said she had been dejected that none from the AIADMK contacted her despite her call for unity and her assurance that she would soon get back to active politics. Sasikala had made the appeal for unity twice, once on February 8 while on her way to Chennai from Bengaluru, and again on February 24 after she paid homage to her friend Jayalalithaa on the latter’s birth anniversary. It is not clear yet what Dhinakaran’s plan of action would be or whether he would receive tacit support from his aunt in the run up to the poll. “But one strong argument that convinced Sasikala was that she would have to take the blame if the DMK came to power,” said a senior AIADMK leader.