At Rajaji Hall on Tuesday evening, as Sasikala stood beside Jayalalithaa’s casket, with other members of her extended clan at vantage positions around the body, there were few AIADMK seniors in the frame. Elsewhere, Sasikala’s husband Natarajan, whom Jayalalithaa apparently loathed, escorted out VIPs. The message, amplified when Sasikala performed the last rites for her friend, was this: that Chinnamma, as Sasikala V K is often referred to, aide and confidante to Jayalalithaa for over three decades, was all set to take over the party. And that she wouldn’t be alone — with her would return Natarajan and other family members.
But there is no certainty that Sasikala, whose friendship with Jayalalithaa began in the early ’80s and who was a constant presence outside the glass cabin of Apollo Hospital’s ICU, where Jayalalithaa lay for 73 days, has been accepted as the new power centre by all in the party.