Ms Jayalalitha really did not have any choice. Her decision to snap links with their aide Sasikala Natarajan, though in the air for quite a few days now must have obviously been a painful one to take. By her own admission, even after the elections, Sasikala was inseparable from her and Ms Jayalalitha claimed that any criticism of her aide was unwarranted and was in fact directed at her. That she should now jettison Sasikala & Co. lock, stock and barrel is indeed an unexpected turnaround and no doubt a turn for the better, for her political career.
It is said that a person could be judged by the company he or she keeps. And there can be no doubt that Sasikala was bad company. It is pointless to blame the people or the press for viewing Ms. Jayalalitha’s actions through the prism of Sasikala, given the proximity and confidence enjoyed by the aide with her master. And for her detractors within and outside the party, it perfectly served their own ends to project Sasikala’s voice as her ‘master’s’ voice. It is difficult to believe that what has been obvious to all and sundry should fail to register with Ms Jayalalitha; leading one to conclude that Sasikala’s grip over the former Chief Minister was total.
In this context, Ms Jayalalitha giving the marching orders to Sasikala & Co. can only be construed as a good augury for her and the party. Her decision, purportedly in deference to the unanimous will of her partymen, advisers and well wishers will have undoubtedly removed a major irritant from the scene and will pave the way for better interaction within the party. Of course, it would be wishful to assume that it is going to be all fine and smooth from now on for the AIADMK, what with innumerable corruption charges and court cases tormenting the leader as well as the party. But her action would at least enable the partymen to now rally around their leader besides taking the wind out of the sails of the rebel group who had relied on Sasikala to oblige them by providing them with a ‘permanent’ stick to beat Ms Jayalalitha with.
The people of the nation are now quite aware that when they elect their rulers they also indirectly elect a coterie. This is a worldwide phenomenon and history is replete with instances of popular leaders who fall into the trap of a few unscrupulous elements who dominate their thought and action. And those leaders have always lived to regret, while languishing in political wilderness; only a few of them have had the courage and fortitude to break loose from those shackles and stage a comeback.
Though at present sights political compulsions and expediency appear to have been behind her decision, it would do well for Ms. Jayalalitha to replace it with the conviction that what is perceived as bad is infact also really bad and she need have no regrets. This would help her take on the arduous political and legal battles ahead with a clear mind and more vigour.
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