Chennai: Everyone seems to be wondering as to who will win the protracted war of supremacy between VK Sasikala and O Panneerselvam. There is no denying that it is the first time that people are realizing to their astonishment that the ever obedient Panneerselvam is not really a ‘paneer’ as many people thought.
After his rather sudden rebellion against the newly installed general secretary of the AIADMK that left almost everyone flabbergast, he is working hard to upstage Sasikala and grab the leadership of the party. The fact that he has the tacit support of the central government and also the opposition DMK seems to be making things easy for him.
The only impediment in his way is the lack of number on his side. Out of 134 AIADMK legislatures his faction doesn’t have the support of even ten MLAs till now. This is the only real impediment in his way.
Sasikala who belongs to the Thevar community, a powerful backward caste in the state was the closest aide of Jayalalithaa. She never ditched her ever since she came in contact with Jayalalithaa. It was she who stood unyielding beside her in the last hours before her death. It was Sasikala who managed the party affairs when the beloved Amma of Tamil Nadu was admitted in hospital. Sasikala’s presence beside the late chief minister in her final hours, in the absence of any other family member of Jayalalithaa had made clear who would have the reigns of party power following her demise.
The two were introduced more than four decades ago. After the death of Jayalalithaa’s political mentor MGR in 1987, Sasikala is said to have offered emotional support to Jayalalithaa. In 1989, she moved into the late chief minister’s residence at Poes Garden and is reported to have got 40 domestic helps with her from her hometown.
While Sasikala educational qualification is a mystery to many there are reports that she completed graduate from her home town. On the other hand, her main challenger O Panneerselvam is a graduate in arts. He was born into the Maravar caste, which is a sub-caste of Thevars, the dominant caste of southern Tamil Nadu, Panneerselvam is remembered as a quiet child. His given name was Pechimuthu, for the family deity Pechiamman. “Our periyappa (father’s elder brother) was also named Pechimuthu. By the way there is no educational qualification required to be in politics or even become chief minister.