(UDHAYAM, CHENNAI) – Forty days after the death of J Jayalalithaa, her niece Deepa Jayakumar is set to announce her political plans today (17th Tuesday). In the ruling AIADMK, a section sees her as the counterweight to Jayalalithaa’s close friend Sasikala Natarajan, recently elected party chief after decades in the shadows.
The family resemblance is remarkable. But in posters over the past few days, Deepa Jayakumar, 42, has morphed into a lookalike of her aunt, complete with her style of wrapping her sari and waving to supporters.
The London-educated daughter of Jayalalithaa’s brother came into the spotlight when she complained last year that she was not allowed to visit her aunt at the Apollo hospital in Chennai. Later, she also alleged she was banned from her funeral in December.
She had not met with her aunt or stepped into Jayalalithaa’s Poes Garden home since 2007. Reports suggest there was friction in the family over Jayalalithaa adopting Sasikala’s nephew, and the Chief Minister snapped ties completely after her brother’s death.
Weeks after Jayalalithaa’s death on December 5, Ms Jayakumar told a group of supporters who had gathered at her home: “My entry into politics cannot be stopped.” She promised an announcement soon.
For this, Ms Jayakumar has chosen the birth centenary of AIADMK founder and Jayalalithaa’s mentor, MG Ramachandran or MGR.
She is likely to speak about her plans after paying tribute at the memorials of MGR and Jayalalithaa at Marina Beach. Many see this as a strategy to strike a chord with MGR fans and loyalists who still form the bulk of Tamil Nadu’s ruling party.
Over the last few weeks, the crowds have been growing slowly but steadily for Ms Jayakumar. Hundreds of AIADMK workers have been assembling at her Chennai home.
At a recent rally at Jayalalithaa’s RK Nagar constituency on the 30th day after her death, a section of the AIADMK cadre openly said, “We don’t want Sasikala to contest here. We want Deepa here.”
AIADMK worker MM Kumar says: “We see our late Amma in Deepa”.
That is not, however, an approved party view. “Where was Deepa all these years? The party has formally chosen Sasikala as the leader and the real cadre is with Chinnamma,” said AIADMK spokesperson CR Saraswathi. (The Hindu)