Sasikala nephew Jeyanandh Dhivaharan said that his aunt, despite being in jail, continues to control the party and dismissed talks of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E Palaniswami distancing himself from the Mannargudi family.
In an exclusive interview to India Today, Jeyanandh Dhivaharan, son of Sasikala’s brother Dhivaharan, said that it his aunt, the general secretary of the AIADMK (Amma) faction, who will decide if the faction will support the BJP candidate in the upcoming Presidential Election.
Jeyanandh Dhivaharan did not rule out the BJP’s attempts to gain ground in Tamil Nadu but said that the AIADMK continues to remain strong at the ground level.
HERE ARE EXCERPTS FROM THE EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH SASIKALA’s NEPHEW:
Q: Did you expect that the judgment would come against Sasikala?
No, we didn’t expect that the judgement will come against her because if you go through the judgment you can see there are lots of flaws. According to me I can see a lots of flaws in that; since the A1 is not there, you cannot convict the A2, A3, A4 just like that.
Q: Do you feel there was some pressure from certain quarters which led to your aunt going to the prison?
No. We can just assume that there is pressure but we cannot be very concrete about that. It may be a mere assumption by the general public or by the AIADMK cadets. We don’t think that there is an actual pressure. Let’s wait for the review.
Q: Is the merger (with OPS faction) happening or not?
I don’t think that at this point in time a merger will happen.
Q: Who initiated the merger talks then?
Merger talks were initiated because we did not want to lose the 10 per cent MLAs. But if they (O Panneerselvam-led faction) are not willing to join, we don’t really care for that 10 per cent. We don’t even know if they have the support of the 10 per cent MLAs they claim to have.
Q: Why did O Panneerselvam leave the party?
He has not given any proper answer to us.
Q: Are the doors still open for OPS?
Yeah, definitely. If he wants, he can definitely join us.
Q: Do you think Edapaddi Palaniswami is still with you? Is the family still in touch with him?
I don’t think he is distancing himself from the family. We are distancing ourselves from the party. For the time being, we are distancing ourselves because he is the chief minister of Tamil nadu. He is functioning in his own way. So let him function. I think there are many officials to guide him. So there is no need to for us to guide him. If needed, we can give him advice.
Q: Several ministers have said that they are distancing themselves from Sasikala.
When EPS became the chief minister, Sasikala told him to function independently. She is not going to dictate anything (to him). She is going to run the party. She is still the general secretary and she has to run the party.
Q: Will you support the BJP candidate in Presidential Election?
Let them announce the candidates. Our general secretary will decide who we should be backing.
Q: Is BJP trying to gain a ground in Tamil Nadu?
It is natural that if a party is getting weak, the other party will be getting stronger. But I don’t think AIADMK cadres will lose hope. Let there be as many factions, the party is still the same at the grassroots.
Q: What happened to Jayalalithaa’s health?
She was in the critical care unit and we could not have gone and asked her that we needed to take her picture to circulate it in media. Lots of nurses were going in and out of the room. The governor met her and she showed him a thumbs up. I don’t know what else we need to prove. I don’t think it’s necessary.
Q: There were some videos and pictures of Jayalalithaa in the hospital.
Even if there are pictures of her in the hospital, those can be shown only to a certain group of people. If the need arises, the judge will see the video but you cannot circulate it. This is about a woman’s privacy.
Q: So you will give it when needed?
The general secretary has to say if she has a video or not. She should say that first. If she says yes, then definitely she will give it if the need arises.
Q: Has Jayalalithaa left a will?
My aunt (Sasikala) has to answer that. So far, we don’t know (if she left a will).
Q: What kind of role you want or play in the party? Are you active in party?
As of now, I am just a primary member. I like to observe things. I like to give suggestions to people on how they can approach a subject.
Q: There are talks about Rajinikanth joining politics.
He has not not made a public announcement; when he does that, the party will take a stand.
Q: The Sasikala clan is called the Mannargudi mafia.
Stalin was the first to call us like that. We don’t mind someone like Stalin calling us as a mafia. To throw a mafia, you need a mafia.