'Jayalalithaa was a customer at Sasikala's video shop'
On Tuesday, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalaithaa expelled her long time confidante Sasikala from her life, house and party. It was a friendship that lasted more than two decades. The person who is responsible for this famous friendship is V Chandralekha, the Tamil Nadu state president of the Janata Party and a former Indian Administrative Services officer. In this interview with Shobha Warrier, Chandralekha talks about how the friendship began.
You are the person instrumental in bringing Jayalalitha and Sasikala together. How did it happen?
I won't say I played an active role in it. I was the collector of South Arcot then. Mr Natarajan (Sasikala's husband) was my public relations officer. He was out of a job for quite some time because he was thrown out during the Emergency.
In fact, many PRos were thrown out because they were all appointed by the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam government. Many of them were later reinstated with loss of seniority. Natarajan and Paneerselvam went to court, and finally the judgment came in their favour. From 1976-80, he was out of a job and only in 1980, he was reposted as PRO.
Sasikala used to come and tell me her stories like how they were victimised, etc. She used to tell me that her jewels were sold and pawned to fight the case. She then set up a video renting shop in Chennai. Jayalalithaa used to be one of her customers. She didn't know the films were taken for Jayalalitha as it was a servant who used to collect the videos.
Then, Sasikala went to Singapore and purchased a few video recorders and started shooting films for marriages and other functions. Natarajan was already a PRO and the information department already had these photographers and videographers. She also started doing that.
One day, Sasikala wanted me to put in a word to Jayalalithaa as she was the propaganda secretary of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam then and used to attend a large number of functions.
Sasikala asked me, would you please recommend my name? I recommended her name to Jayalalithaa and told her that I knew Sasikala and her husband was my PRO.
Jayalalithaa then used her for one of the functions and was quite happy with the result. After that, she started doing more work for Jayalalithaa.
Click NEXT to read further...
Image: A file photo of Sasikala, Jayalalithaa's aide who has been expelled from the party
'Sasikala slowly made herself indispensable'
Were you surprised when both of them became close and later Sasikala even moved to Poes Garden (Jayalaithaa's residence)?
I was not. Once Sasikala became close to Jayalaithaa, she started carrying tales about many things and slowly made herself indispensable.
One thing that always surprised me was, Jayalalithaa is an intelligent person. I don't know how she got influenced by this lady and allowed her to take complete charge of her. That is something that always puzzled me.
What kind of a person was Sasikala? What was the impression that you got?
When I knew her, she was only an ordinary housewife. She didn't have much of an education but she was very street-smart. She was a good PR person.
It was reported everywhere that Sasikala had great influence on Jayalalithaa. Did that surprise you?
It didn't come as a surprise to me. Sasikala has this knack of influencing people who are amenable. For example, if you are a person who doesn't like cooking, she will cook for you and serve you the food in a plate. Over a period of time, she will make herself indispensable.
Also, if you have a point of view, she will never oppose it; she will talk in favour of your point of view. Then, you would like to have someone like that around you.
You may feel comfortable to have a person like that as your friend.
Click NEXT to read further...
Image: A file photo of partymen outside Jayalalitha's residence in Chennai
'Sasikala and her family were influencing Jayalalithaa'
After they became friends, did she ever come and meet you?
After they became close, she gradually moved away. I didn't have any contacts with her.
How do you view the expulsion of Sasikala in 1996 and now after being so close to each other?
I don't know why all of you are so excited about the expulsion. I don't know how many days it will last.
Do you think it is a tactical move?
I don't think its a tactical move. Maybe she is really upset with Sasikala. In 1996 also, she was expelled and out of her house for some time.
She was back and all the family members were also back. I am very doubtful about how long this also will continue.
A lot has been written about the power Sasikala and her family had over Jayalalithaa. Do you think they could influence her that much?
They have been influencing her! It is a statement of fact. They have been a kind of extra-constitutional authority. There is no doubt about that.
Image: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa