This was written on Feb 6th but is relevant to what is about to happen in the Supreme Court.ost of the people from outside the Tamil Nadu State (and even many within Tamil Nadu) are puzzled by the unanimous decision of the AIADMK MLAs in electing an inexperienced Sasikala, also called Chinnamma (personal aide of the former CM Ms. Jayalalithaa, also called Amma) as the CM in place of the time-tested O. Panneerselvam (also called OPS), who has been earning a good name by the day.
Why Do ADMK MLAs Want Sasikala As CM?
The most important reason is the absence of any other person acceptable to all the MLAs as the CM (TINA factor – There Is No Alternative, as they call it in politics). There are many factions within AIADMK, and most of them don’t want OPS to continue as CM. The AIADMK Party has still about 4 ½ years of tenure to rule Tamil Nadu.
AIADMK was always a single leader party; hence all other leaders are almost equals, and none has state-wide mass appeal. All the MLAs want to continue in power, and don’t want their Government to collapse due to inner squabbling. The person acceptable as CM to all of them is Sasikala, including perhaps OPS. So, if all the MLAs have to share power in some form, it is possible only with Sasikala as the CM-cum-Party Chief. In my view, in an identical situation, almost anyone in politics would have done exactly what the AIADMK MLAs have done. There’s nothing puzzling about it.
This suits Sasikala who is ambitious. And many of her close relatives also want to exploit this opportunity.
Though many of Jaya’s admirers among the public and opponents have even expressed doubts about her complicity in Jaya’s illness and subsequent death, it is quite possible that Sasikala may have done her very best to save Jaya. It appears from the Press Conference of the doctors today that all the conspiracy theories may have been unfounded. Sasikala and the party may have just mishandled the 2 ½ month hospitalization of Jaya, just lacking in transparency.
The SC is apparently about to deliver the judgment in the DA (Disproportionate Assets) case, and a negative verdict could make it impossible for Sasikala to remain the CM. There are also other court cases against Sasikala and her relatives; the properties of many people have been claimed to have been forcibly usurped by her and her relatives in the past years of Jaya’s rule, though these charges are in the realms of speculation, none proved in any court of law. Jaya herself has expelled Sasikala from her home and party at least twice, though she has taken her back later. In the backdrop of all these, the mood of the public appears to be intensely negative against Sasikala, which can be gauged from the reactions in social media. But despite these perception problems, if all the AIADMK MLAs want to make her CM, it is only because the party needs her desperately.
There is also a second reason why AIADMK MLAs want Sasikala as the CM. Sasikala, having been a confidante of Jaya, has been able to get access to all the property of the party, Jaya having died intestate (or so it appears). So, the MLAs believe that, in order to face future elections, they would need Sasikala at the helm.
This brings us to the question: If the AIADMK MLAs want to make Sasikala the CM despite such widespread negative perception, lack of political or administrative experience, not even having been an MLA ever, only because she is the glue that can keep the party together in power, should the Governor oblige make her the CM?
Though I’m no legal expert, I understand constitutionally the Governor has no choice but to swear her in as CM. It sounds reasonable too. All objections of many opposition leaders are based on subjective criteria, none objective.
Frankly, I also won’t fault the AIADMK MLAs because, in a similar situation, any other party would have broken up and some would have joined hands with the main opposition party and tried to come to power. Why has this not happened in Tamil Nadu?
Though both the DMK and AIADMK may appear to be Dravidian parties, they are culturally very different. So, most AIADMK MLAs would feel out of place in DMK. DMK is somewhat democratic, while AIADMK is fully autocratic (but with the complete willingness of its members to be so; we may have noticed even Ministers and old party functionaries prostrating fully before Jaya in public, unashamedly, in the name of party discipline). DMK is single family centric, while AIADMK is not, at least till Jaya’s death. DMK is irreligious, while AIADMK is very religious and ‘very secular’. Though corruption is common to both parties, there have been occasions when Jaya has punished people in her party perceived to be corrupt, but that has never happened in DMK, as corruption is the raison d’être of DMK. So, the best option right now for AIADMK MLAs is to stay together and remain in power, under Sasikala’s leadership.
Will Sasikala be able to provide good leadership and governance to Tamil Nadu? Tamil Nadu has tremendous potential to maintain and improve upon its leadership position among the Indian States. There are at least a few non-corrupt Ministers and some excellent Ministers, and if Sasikala runs the Government under their guidance, chances are fair that she may establish herself as a good CM. But if she gets her main guidance from her relatives and other corrupt leaders in running the Government, in the context of the presence of a strong opposition in the form of DMK, people will throw out her Government; it may not even last its current tenure.
Let’s hope for the best!
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.