Perhaps, this quote maybe ringing in the ears of Sasikala ever since Paneerselvam broke her peace into pieces, after forty minutes of silence at the memorial of Jayalalithaa near Marina beach, Chennai.
Is the revolt by Paneerselvam an unexpected event? Well, no. Sasikala might be knowing what is there in store for her from the day Jayalalithaa was admitted into the hospital. To be frank, Paneerselvam has no one to blame except himself. He was the all-powerful second man of AIADMK’s government, shouldering the responsibility whenever Jayalalithaa was forced to resign from the position. Of course, in cult politics a man like him who has no mass base cannot enforce his views on others, especially when the cult leader is no more.
After his so called ‘meditation’, Paneerselvam alleged that he visited the hospital daily, but could not get a glance at the then Chief Minister, who was in ICU. Neither Venkaiah Naidu nor Rahul Gandhi. And there are scores of others. Niece of Jayalalithaa Deepa Jayakumar was not even allowed into the hospital. Who was in power at that time? Paneerselvam himself.
Entire Tamilnadu was ripe with rumours about Jaya’s health and imminent death. Two days ago, doctors conducted a press conference and declared that Jaya died of natural causes. The timing itself came under the scanner as this conference was held long after Jaya’s death. Though the official reason given was that it was held so late only due to travel plans of Dr. Richard Beale, the explanations given during the conference raised more questions than answering some.
First and foremost, question the team of doctors, and the management of Apollo Hospitals should answer why nobody was allowed to see ailing Jayalalithaa? Who gave instructions to prevent anyone visiting the ailing CM? Was the person giving instructions, part of the administration or a private citizen? When the constitutional authority was admitted, and being treated in the hospital, it was the norm to release few photographs to assure people of the state. Why this was not done? Who could see Jayalalithaa when she was in the hospital?
Of course, Paneerselvam will now be speaking against Sasikala as she has kicked him out of the seat that he felt he inherited from Amma.
But, in the entire fiasco of Jaya’s treatment in Apollo, was Paneerselvam not a partner? Maybe a passive partner, but a partner nevertheless. Even the Governor Vidyasagar Rao has played his role of passive partner. Maybe BJP received some friendly overtures from AIADMK. Even the Union Government played a mute witness in the episode, much like the Judiciary that appeared too confused to deal with PILs springing up on Jaya’s health.
All said and done, this was a classic case of collapse of entire establishment of both State and the Union including the polity, executive and judiciary. All the reason for having a CBI probe. Perhaps, outcome of the probe may be some guidelines at least, as normally CBI inquiries don’t result in any convictions.
When Sheela Balakrishnan resigned, despite an extension of her tenure in force, Paneerselvam couldn’t do anything to retain her. Like him, she too was a Jaya protégé. And there were many others. Let us call a spade a spade, Paneerselvam failed in establishing himself much as a leader. A leader has to protect his wards, but not leave them to fend themselves. He acted like Yudhishtir, who sacrificed his brothers, wife and kingdom, struggling to keep… Was there anything left to keep? To say the truth, current revolt by Paneerselvam is blaming others for one’s fault.
Even now, he chooses to rebel only because he has nothing to lose, but gain. He was already reduced one amongst many in the Sasikala’s coterie. Or he may not be even that. So, going public in the name of Amma, he at least gets some goodwill associated with sympathy. He is one of the AIADMK leaders who can win elections on his own and he is now only cementing his chances of winning in next elections, whenever they happen.
Yes, Sasikala is shrewd enough to manipulate everyone in the Indian establishment, without even the minimal authority. She was neither an official of AIADMK party, nor part of Jaya’s government. Her (s)election as leader of legislative party only exhibits the depravity in the minds of majority of AIADMK MLAs. Some leaders who don’t like her simply used the chance to remove Paneerselvam, as they don’t like him to be in power. Typical case of ‘if not mine, why shall it be yours’ syndrome.
As Indian democracy is all about choosing the lesser evil, Paneerselvam suddenly received lots of following. And this following has stemmed simply out of ‘aversion’ to Sasikala. But, what can he do really to prevent Sasikala from becoming CM? Just nothing. At the best, he may delay her assuming the throne. This is because, like one Apsara (not a fairy, but one AIADMK leader Apsara Reddy) amongst other AIADMK leaders said, the majority of MLAs are with Sasikala. For the records, Paneerselvam was removed from the post of treasurer of AIADMK by Sasikala, who is general secretary of the party. PANEERSELVAM was dubbed as a ‘dummy CM’ by AIADMK and Sasikala said he would be removed from even the primary membership of the party.
Meanwhile, Governor Vidyasagar Rao, who holds additional charge of Tamilnadu is in Mumbai and is monitoring the situation and is not in hurry to decide anything immediately. As such, after playing into the hands of Sasikala for long, neither the governor nor the union government have any control over the situation. Technically, at the best, governor may ask for a vote in the assembly before deciding the CM candidate. This is the only option left before the governor at the present.
Meanwhile, the judgement of disproportionate assets case may be delivered by Supreme Court. If the court convicts Sasikala (along with Jayalalithaa), it is end of the game for Sasikala as she would be forgotten by everyone in one day. There would be full-fledged internal war within AIADMK. If wisdom prevails in the party seniors, they may compromise amongst themselves and form a government, but such a government would be disastrous to the state. One need not go long into the history, but only few years to know the result. After the sudden death of YS Rajasekhara Reddy, Congress ran the government changing chief ministers twice. But, it was a period of hell for the state and by the next elections, the state was divided. This is to say, stability is of utmost important factor to look in a democratic government. Without stability, development gets affected and in some cases, even the existing situation deteriorates.
If Sasikala is discharged in the DA case, then she would definitely become the CM of the state. Perhaps then Sasikala may realise that forming the government against public sentiment is not everything in entirety, but running it smoothly is. Contrary to her expectations that the BJP government at the centre needs her MLAs, Modi, who is on a strong foot after demonetisation may not heed to her on everything. And, she lost the bargaining chips by removing bureaucrats who were close to the centre. The fact she doesn’t enjoy public support makes everyone in the government behave like a faction leader and the government would be a conglomeration of several factions.
Come summer, Chennai needs water. To his credit, Paneerselvam claims he got Krishna water from AP, but it was not during peak summer. The moment Sasikala fails to get water from AP, it would be difficult for her to run the government. As the monsoons come, there would be Kaveri fiasco again that cannot not be dealt by a CM who doesn’t enjoys public support. Even if she sticks to power, people would suffer. All she can do is file pleas in the court. Already the limitations of Supreme Court were seen few months ago, when Karnataka refused to obey the highest court’s order. It was only the meddling by the centre that controlled the situation from going out of hands. The moment people starve for water, separatists would raise their ugly head again. Probably, to maintain law and order, President’s rule may be imposed and elections may be called for. If not in 2018, elections may happen along with general elections in 2019 i.e., two years before schedule.
Meanwhile, BJP’s state president said that she welcomes any government that can provide stability and is free of corruption. Well, this reflects the confusion the party is still soaked in.