National

How Sasikala emerged from Jayalalithaa's shadow

CHENNAI: From a video cassette pusher to boss of Poes Garden two months ago, head of AIADMK a month ago+ and soon to step into into the corridors of power at Fort St George, Sasikala's rise+ has been meteoric in the last three decades.

A high school dropout from Mannargudi in Tiruvarur district, Sasikala was introduced to Jayalalithaa in 1982 by the former's husband M Natarajan, then a government public relations officer. Since then, she became a regular in Jayalalithaa's house and the couple finally moved into it in 1988.

But for brief periods in 1996 and 2012, when Jayalalithaa sent her out of No 81, Veda Nilayam, for anti-party activities, Sasikala had been staying with her. Even when her husband was thrown out of the house in 1990, she did not leave. The relationship with Natarajan continues to be strained even today.

When Jayalalithaa was hospitalised, she stood by her bed. After her death, Sasikala returned to Poes Garden and, as Jayalalithaa has not left any will behind, she continued to occupy the house that does not belong to her even today. And it is this house that she draws all her powers from and it is under the tutelage of Jayalalithaa that she learnt all the political manoeuvring that is now on display in Tamil Nadu.

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