After over a month since the death of former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa, her 42-year-old niece Deepa Jayakumar has said she would be revealing her political plans on her late aunt's birth anniversary which is on February 24. Earlier, she had said that she would announce her plans on Tuesday (January 17), which marks the birth centenary of late AIADMK founder and Tamil Nadu chief minister MG Ramachandran.
Deepa, who bears a remarkable resemblance to Jayalalithaa, has expressed displeasure over the elevation of Sasikala Natarajan, a close aide of the late chief minister, in the party. AIADMK dissidents, too, see her as a contender for the top post though the party has officially sided with Sasikala.
"I have two options one is to join AIADMK or to float a new party, will discuss with my supporters before making a decision. I cannot accept anyone else in Jayalalithaa's position. What the Sasikala family is claiming is false that Jayalalithaa was working based on their ideas," she said.
"There are many rumours being spread just to defame me, and people don't know the reality," she added.
Posters have come up in the southern state over the last few days showing Deepa dressed up as the late leader and waving hands to her supporters. Deepa, daughter of Jayalalithaa's brother Jayakumar and educated in the West, grabbed the headlines recently by alleging that she was not allowed to visit her ill aunt in a hospital in Chennai where she breathed has last on December 5. She also alleged that she was not allowed to attend Jayalalithaa's funeral.
The AIADMK leadership also hit back at Deepa saying she was hardly visible in the recent time. "Where was Deepa all these years? The party has formally chosen Sasikala as the leader and the real cadre is with Chinnamma," said AIADMK spokesperson CR Saraswathi.
Deepa had earlier chosen MGR's birth centenary to announce her political plans with the aim that she would garner support on a day with which the people of Tamil Nadu are emotionally connected. MGR continues to rule the heart of the AIADMK supporters even after almost three decades of his death while the party is yet to overcome the grief caused by Jayalalithaa's demise. So, for Deepa, it was a perfect time to make her own way.
She also has the backing of some factions in the ruling party. Earlier this month, some AIADMK supporters sought Deepa and not Sasikala as the electoral candidate in Jayalalithaa's consituency RK Nagar. Some also said that they find their late Amma in her niece.
Deepa has reportedly not entered Jayalalithaa's Poes Garden residence since 2007 owing to family dispute between her and her aunt. Jayalalithaa reportedly severed ties with Deepa following the death of her brother.