Amma Nahi, Chinamma! The Rise Of Sasikala In Tamil Nadu Politics

By Shreya Jha

A look into how the deceased chief minister Jayalalitha’s closest aide Sasikala rose to the ranks of general secretary of the third largest party AIADMK. 

Sasikala Natrajan is the second most popular figure in the AIADMK after J.Jayalalitha.

If Jayalalitha was the AMMA or the mother. She is CHINNAMMA or the younger mother in Tamil.

During Jayalalitha’s death, Sasikala stood by her side and could be seen weeping and wiping her tears. She introduced herself as the legacy which Jayalalitha had left behind.

Jayalalitha and Sasikala: the story of a woman who knew too much…

Jayalalithaa and Sasikala
Jayalalithaa and Sasikala

V S Chandraleka, the IAS officer had introduced both of them to each other. Soon Jayalalitha became close to her and started confiding in her. Meanwhile Sasikala and her family soon started gaining prominence in Jayalalitha’s residence. Sasikala was declared as “udaanpiraava sagodhari” (soul sister) by Jayalalitha.  The greatest instance of their friendship was when Jayalalitha adopted Sudhakaran, Sasikala’s nephew and spent lavishly on his wedding. The amount of money spent in the wedding raised eyebrows.

A year later AIADMK lost elections in 1996.

Sasikala was arrested on grounds of violating the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act. She was accused of acquiring a number of illegal lands and properties.

In the Tansi land deal, Jaya and Sasikala were accused of violating the market price and incurring loss to the Government. However both the High Court and Supreme Court acquitted Jayalalitha in the case.

Expulsion from the party

Sasikala was expelled by Jayalitha from AIADMK along with 12 relatives in 2012.

What could have possibly been the reason for being expelled?

Jayalalitha had given no reason for her expulsion.
However it was said by other party members that it is because of political overreach that she and her family has been expelled.

This expulsion lasted for a mere 100 days though. She was back in the party.

Jayalalitha’s death in December 2016

After a prolonged illness and cardiac arrest, Jayalalitha died. This led to a political void in Tamil Nadu and in her party the AIADMK.

People looked upto Sasikala in reverence and guidance. She was appointed as the General secretary of the party soon after death of Jaya. A video footage showed a reluctant Sasikala  accepting the position after much request from the party officials. It is widely believed that she is the one who can carry forward Jayalalitha’s legacy as she has been her closest aide and has witnessed the tumultuous regime together. Though a large section oppose her sudden rise.

O Pannerselvam, the party stalwart was quick to oppose her rise to power. Sasikala was quick to shut his mouth and sack him. Terming these revolts as attempt to destroy the party, she has vowed that she will not allow this attempt to become successful.

A number of revolts have taken place since then to oppose her rise to power. More so because she is considered by a lot many to have been behind Jayalalitha’s poor health conditions and untimely death.

Much of the story remains shrouded in mystery and complications. But one thing for now is certain. Sasikala has made a powerful comeback and has the determination and desire to control the political affairs of AIADMK and become it’s new face.


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