A few days after being released from the Bengaluru jail under a corruption case, V K Sasikala, the closest aide of late Jayalalitha, announced her retirement from “politics and public life,” stunning the political pundits and think tanks across the political spectrum. Moreover, she also asked the people of Tamil Nadu to vote for AIADMK, from which she was ousted unceremoniously by Edappadi K Palaniswami and O Panneerselvam. Her appeal to the people will surely benefit the AIADMK-BJP alliance in the upcoming polls.
“All true followers of Jayalalithaa need to act with wisdom to ensure the DMK, that ‘amma‘ identified as our common enemy, is kept out of power,” Sasikala said in her statement.
“I have never hankered after title, posts or power. I will stay away from politics and pray to ‘akka‘ (sister) and to God, for AIADMK rule to continue,” she added.
The statement from Sasikala is a big relief for the AIADMK and BJP alliance because she still holds sway among the Thevar community, a very influential caste in the state of Tamil Nadu. Had she opposed AIADMK or floated her own party, it would have hurt the AIADMK-BJP alliance by splitting a large number of votes. However, BJP’s master strategists have succeeded in reining in her political ambitions in order to save the government from being ousted in the 2021 assembly election.
The AIADMK was on the backfoot after it was routed by Stalin-led DMK in the 2019 general election, but since the party ensured that it will enter in an alliance with the BJP, BJP has revived its campaign with fresh faces as well as with fresh energy.
With Sasikala retiring from active politics and extending her support for the AIADMK-BJP alliance, things look easier for the incumbents because a leader who could have harmed the alliance more than the opposition has been taken out of the equation.
In the last few months, the BJP has increased its activities in the state to blow the bugle for the upcoming elections. Last month, Khusbhu Sundar – one of the most popular actresses of Tamil Cinema, joined the BJP after she quit Congress on the grounds of being suppressed by the high command of the party. Also, former DMK MP K P Ramalingam, who has been suspended from the party a few months ago for speaking against M K Stalin and aligning with M K Alagiri, has joined the BJP in the presence of Amit Shah.
Amit Shah is trying to make a formidable Mahagathbandhan in Tamil Nadu consisting of AIADMK, BJP, and Alagiri which will make things even trickier for the DMK which is left with only the INC, which over the years has ended up hurting its alliance partners and acted as a parasite, with case in point being the 2016 West Bengal elections and the Bihar elections concluded in 2020. While the DMK can look for some support from Kamal Haasan, it is unlikely to change its fortunes as currently, it seems like the NDA will sweep Tamil Nadu in the assembly polls.