The invisible puppeteer is moving the strings again. Poes Garden in Chennai reclaimed its position as a high-security zone on Sunday morning with police making their presence felt by the dozen. The reason behind this post-breakfast drama was that J Jayalalithaa's niece Deepa Jayakumar tried to get inside Veda Nilayam, Jayalalithaa's residence.
Pandemonium broke out immediately after as she was reportedly denied entry and media persons were assaulted by private security guards posted at Poes Garden.
The twist in the tale was that Deepa's brother Deepak Jayakumar was already inside the house. Deepa claimed it was her brother who had asked her to come to Poes Garden along with her husband Madhavan. The reason given was that it was an auspicious day and that they wanted to pay homage to Jayalalithaa's portrait. That's surprising because if that was indeed the intention, why not go to Amma's samadhi at Marina Beach. And 11 June is neither Jayalalithaa's birth nor death anniversary.
The subsequent versions differ. Deepa claims she was roughed up at the house while Deepak accused her of cooking up a story. Deepa apparently wanted Sasikala's pictures to be removed from Veda Nilayam, which the guards posted there did not allow. In a fit of rage, Deepa accused Deepak of conspiring with Sasikala to kill Jayalalithaa. This is the theatre of the absurd playing out in Chennai, with no one telling the absolute truth.
Since Sasikala went to Bengaluru Central Prison on 15 February after she was convicted in a disproportionate assets case, only a handful of Jayalalithaa's staff have been staying at Veda Nilayam. O Panneerselvam had mooted the idea of converting it into Amma memorial, but it did not find favour with the other faction of the AIADMK. Deepa and Deepak being the legal heirs to Jayalalithaa's properties spread out in Chennai, Hyderabad and Kodanad, are keen to lay claim first to Veda Nilayam because that is seen as the symbol of her power. Given that Deepa has political ambitions, gaining entry into her aunt's home would give her political mileage.
But it won't be easy. There was hardly any contact between Jayalalithaa and Deepa while the former was alive. Those who argue against giving Deepa a share in the property say she was deemed persona non grata by the late chief minister. Deepa, of course, blames it all on Sasikala's control over Jayalalithaa's mind.
Sasikala spent most of her three decades with Jayalalithaa at Poes Garden and drew her power from it. She would not want to lose Poes Garden to anyone who is seen as anti-Sasikala. The interim general secretary of AIADMK may be inside the jail but it has not nullified her political power outside it. Her nephew TTV Dinakaran despite being embroiled in the party symbol bribery case has managed to attract the support of 31 MLAs so far, good enough to topple the Edappadi Palaniswami government should the aunt-nephew duo so desire.
Also if Deepa wants the house, she should ideally go to the court to claim her right over the properties. So far there is no talk of a will left by Jayalalithaa unless there was one and it has been stolen from the Kodanad estate. Deepa's reluctance to take the legal route makes one suspect her real intentions. Which is why her high decibel allegations look nothing but a publicity stunt.
Also, the presence of her husband Madhavan by her side on Sunday is a u-turn in what the world knows so far about their equation. After Deepa had launched the MGR Amma Deepa Peravai, Madhavan had floated his own outfit, MGR Jayalalithaa DMK Kazhagam, suggesting all was not well between husband and wife. Both parties did not set the Cooum on fire, though Deepa had filed her nomination from the RK Nagar Assembly constituency in the by-election, that was subsequently rescinded.
Deepak too has claimed that Veda Nilayam belongs to him and Deepa. But his proximity to Sasikala makes one suspect if he is merely a front for the Mannargudi clan, holding the fort till Sasikala is back from jail. The fact that he was allowed entry inside, going by Deepa's version, suggests that there is perhaps an understanding between Deepak and Sasikala's managers.
The question is who is moving the pieces on the Tamil Nadu chessboard. One possibility is that Deepa's wild allegations against the Mannargudi family are triggered by the political support she has managed to hold on to, despite the legal sword over Dinakaran's neck. Two, it seems like an attempt to keep the allegations of hanky-panky in Jayalalithaa's death alive in public memory. Deepa is a political zero but in the sentimental world of Tamil Nadu politics, her resemblance to Jayalalithaa and her ability to indulge in theatrics means she will have some traction among women voters in rural Tamil Nadu and can be used as political fidayeen to hurt rivals.
The Sunday morning show managed to run to a full house, given Tamil Nadu's interest in this political potboiler, but in the end it was nothing but a drama enacted to attract eyeballs.
Updated Date: Jun 11, 2017 18:51 PM