Chennai: As AIADMK pushes the late J Jayalalithaa's friend and longtime aide Sasikala Natarajan to take over as the party chief, the former Chief Minister's niece Deepa Jayakumar has said she is not the right candidate for the job.
- Sasikala does not enjoy widespread support in the party: Deepa Jayakumar
- Ms Natrajan's corruption cases brought bad name to Jayalalithaa, she said
- Though Deepa was present at Jayalalithaa's funeral, she was given no role
Ms Jayakumar, a journalist, has pointed to the disproportionate assets case against Ms Natarajan that's pending in the Supreme Court. She has also claimed that Ms Natarajan, the woman referred to as Jayalalithaa's "shadow", does not enjoy widespread support in the party.
"The corruption case is a huge setback. That's why people don't want her. She only brought bad name to the great leader Jayalalithaa...Other senior leaders should contest," Ms Jayakumar told NDTV.
Ms Jayakumar -- the daughter of Ms Jayalalithaa's only sibling, her brother Jayakumar -- says she is not unwilling to play a political role to guard her aunt's legacy. "If the party wants I can join. I only want to take forward my aunt's legacy from the family," she said.
Deepa is the daughter of Jayalalithaa's brother. However, both sides had been estranged for years. Though Deepa was present at Jayalalithaa's funeral, she was given no role. Only her brother Deepak was allowed to perform the last rites of Jayalalithaa.
In the days after Ms Jayalalithaa's death following a three-month illness and hospitalisation, many in the AIADMK has turned to Chinamma (little mother) as Ms Natarajan has been known.
While the party, including Chief Minister O Paneerselvam, has urged her to take over as the new general secretary - a post Jayalalithaa had held for 27 years - no formal acceptance has come from Ms Natarajan.
A section in the party, however, is not happy that Ms Natarajan is turning out to be its new power centre. While some of them root for Mr Paneerselvam, trusted aide of Jayalalithaa, others say Ms Natarajan's projection as the head will show the party in a bad light.
Though the High Court had acquitted Ms Natarajan, the Supreme Court is yet to give its verdict. A public prosecutor in the case said that Ms Jayalalithaa's death wouldn't exempt her from punishment if the top court finds her guilty.
"Where there is a charge of conspiracy, merely because one of the conspirators dies, the charge against other accused will not abate," said BV Acharya, lawyer for the Karnataka government.