Former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa’s niece Deepa Jayakumar on Tuesday said she would definitely contest in elections to serve the state. She said it was a “sad day for Tamil Nadu” as its people had not voted for the new All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief VK Sasikala and that they did not want her as their chief minister.
“I am here because of my aunt Jayalalithaa. I want to complete the tasks she left behind,” Jayakumar said. “Only a democratically elected person should become the chief minister of Tamil Nadu. Being with someone for 33 years is not a qualification for the post. People are scared of her [Sasikala], I am not.”
She added that the instability in Tamil Nadu has worried people, and said that she was not allowed to visit Jayalalithaa in hospital. “From day one, I had asked to be allowed inside, but the hospital denied me entry and never got in touch with me,” she said. “All they wanted to establish by excluding me from clinical decisions about Jayalalithaa was that I’m not family.”
Jayakumar also said she would “not stake claim” on Jayalalithaa’s Poes Garden home in Chennai. “The state is my priority now,” she added.
Her interaction with the media came on the heels of AIADMK leaders KA Sengottaiyan and PS Ramachandran trying to clarify the claims made by veteran party member PH Pandian earlier on Tuesday. Pandian had alleged that Jayalalithaa had not died of a cardiac arrest, but had “collapsed after she was pushed” in her Poes Garden home in Chennai. “Jaya’s death was unnatural,” the former Tamil Nadu Assembly deputy speaker had claimed.
Ramachandran said, “The press conference addressed by one of our leaders [Pandian] was to create confusion. He could have approached our party forums.” Sengottaiyan, too, accused Pandian of trying to “create confusion” even though five of his family members held posts in the party.
“Nobody can stop Chinamma [Sasikala] from becoming the chief minister of Tamil Nadu,” Sengottaiyan asserted, while Ramachandran clarified that Sasikala’s inauguration ceremony would be organised at the convenience of the AIADMK and Governor Vidyasagar Rao. “We have presented our status to the governor. It is for him to indicate a time at his convenience, we cannot force him,” Ramachandran said.
He also dismissed Pandian’s allegation that Jayalalithaa had been poisoned. “Only doctors can speak about it. This allegation is completely false.”
Sasikala was set to be sworn in as Tamil Nadu chief minister on Tuesday. However, a petition was filed in the Supreme Court on Monday to restrain her appointment to the post till after a ruling in her disproportionate assets case. Governor Rao is believed to be reviewing whether Sasikala can be sworn in before the verdict is passed.