Several AIADMK leaders want Sasikala Natarajan to become the party’s general secretary.
Chennai: They are coming in waves; each big wave with a few hundreds of AIADMK representatives from a district. They are arriving at Poes Garden bungalow of late party supremo Jayalalithaa to pledge their loyalty to Chinnamma Sasikala after being told that she is meeting party representatives to share her grief over the demise of Amma and to listen to their ‘suggestions’ — which begin and end with just one prayer: take over the responsibility, become the general secretary, only you can save our party.
Wiping a tear now and then, Sasikala listens uncomplainingly to the large delegations from different districts after they are drove into the bungalow by the police outside and the personal security men within. She spends extensive time meeting the party persons, apart from several important qualities including financiers, newspaper editors, artistes and litterateurs.
Actually, none of those marching in droves into Poes Garden appears to be anguished Amma’s loss. Chests breathless and faces lit with energy, these men and women, dressed prim and proper, seem to be rushing in to pledge loyalty to the new leader and begin work for the future in right earnest, in quick time.
“They are all coming with 1 agenda, to get Chinnamma to accept the position of party general secretary. This will guarantee that our party residues united and strong; any other leader would be only seen as on behalf of a particular region or group. She has deep knowledge of the affairs of the party and the government having been closely connected with Amma for several years”, stated ‘Aspire’ Swaminathan, former IT wing secretary of the AIADMK, while watching the crowds pass by to reach Veda Nilayam. “The DMK is to come to break us if we hand over any sign of weakness at this testing time. We will not allow that to happen”, he added.
There’s no pushing, no jostling and shouting though the crowds are big and the street is narrow, shrunk further by the cyclone-felled trees and the SUVs of party VIPs; only there were 1 or 2 altercations of the restless district representatives at the police barricades meters away from the imposing gates of Veda Nilayam.
Asthana photographer Reuben is full of activity than ever clicking Chinnamma’s interactions through the day. Party headquarters mail the images to media houses by the evening to make sure the world knows how quickly and effectively she is associating the command and how her party representatives are insistent with her to lead them. Hardworking Reuben had taken exclusive pictures during the MGR tenure and thereafter recorded Jayalalithaa’s public meetings for posterity; now he seems happy doing it for Chinnamma.
The local people exercised patience, understanding well the unusual and unavoidable flood of people descending from all over the state. They gently steered their cars through the crowd and the metal barricades. Luckily, the party headquarters staggered the appointments in such a way that Chinnamma would meet the representatives from 6 districts each day, apart from the non-political VIPs.
“She has done a brilliant thing stepping out so quickly to meet the party people. She is showing herself as being available. She may lack Amma’s charisma but she is making that up by this availability factor. You should not be surprised if soon gets trained in public speaking and begins touring the state to address rallies”, stated an AIADMK senior requesting anonymity.