The late Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa’s niece Deepa on Friday kick-started her political career by launching the ‘MGR Amma Deepa Forum’, on the late chief minister’s birth anniversary.
Addressing a press conference at her home, she unveiled a flag carrying the images of Jayalalithaa and M G Ramachandran and said her political journey has ‘begun’.
Responding to a query, Deepa said people wanted that she should contest from R K Nagar constituency that fell vacant following the demise of J Jayalalithaa.
“I will definitely contest. Though I was not keen on entering politics, it is the people’s wish,” she said.
She said the Forum has been formed to ‘retrieve the two leaves (All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s official symbol) and bring back Amma’s golden rule in Tamil Nadu’.
The former chief minister’s niece said she was getting several requests to enter politics and she did so to respect people’s wishes.
Deepa, who will be the treasurer of the Forum, said her next course of action would be decided in due course and she would reveal it at the ‘appropriate time’.
On her facing hurdles in meeting Jayalalithaa when she was hospitalised, Deepa merely said she went there to pray for her speedy recovery.
Deepa recalled that she used to visit Jayalalithaa every year on her birthday to seek her blessings.
Earlier in the day, she visited Jayalalithaa’s memorial at Kamarajar Salai and laid a wreath at her burial site.
Asked whether the Forum was a political party or an outfit, she said, “This is a federation at the moment. And we expect to unite the supporters of Amma (Jayalalithaa) and the cadres under one roof and work towards a better future.”
Asserting that the forum would work towards the welfare of the people, she said it would follow the work left by Amma as Chief Minister and 'Puratchi Thalaivar' (M G Ramachandran) by pursuing their welfare programmes.
On her brother Deepak’s remarks regarding his willingness to pay Rs 100 crore fine for the Poes Garden residence, which he claimed has been bequeathed to him and Deepa, she said, “I am not aware of what he stated.”
Deepa further said she suspected that his remarks were ‘politically motivated’.
“He has changed the stand,” she said apparently referring to Deepak’s earlier support to AIADMK chief V S Sasikala who is now serving a jail term in Bengaluru in a graft case.
On whether it was appropriate for her to join politics after Jayalalithaa’s death as she had not taken part in politics, Deepa retorted that even Sasikala had no political experience.
“Sasikala plunged into politics to promote her family,” she said.
Asked about her recent meeting with former Chief Minister O Panneerselvam at Jayalalithaa’s memorial, Deepa said, “He (Panneerselvam) has mentioned about it to the media. I had already said that the meeting (with Panneerselvam) was only a courtesy call.”
On how confident she was in taking the Forum to its logical conclusion, Deepa said, ‘the true followers of Amma are behind me and there are no second thoughts about that’.
On her role in the Forum, Deepa said that she has been appointed as ‘Treasurer’ and details of the office bearers would be announced ‘shortly’.
Once a supporter of Sasikala, Jayalalithaa’s nephew Deepak Jayakumar has now said her attempt to become the chief minister was ‘unacceptable’ to the people of Tamil Nadu, while claiming that the late AIADMK chief had left behind her properties to him and his sister.
He claimed that the former chief minister had bequeathed her properties, including her Veda Nilayam bungalow in Poes Garden in Chennai, to his sister Deepa and him, by leaving behind a will.
IMAGE: Jayalalithaa's niece Deepa Jayakumar at the launch of her new party 'MGR Amma Deepa Peravai' on the occasion of her aunt's 69th birth anniversary at her residence in Chennai on Friday. Photograph: R Senthil Kumar/PTI Photo