Former AIADMK interim General Secretary V.K. Sasikala, who was expelled from the party following her arrest and jail term, is now planning a comeback and plans to use the caste route for this purpose even as a major section of the party led by former Chief Minister K. Palaniswami is strongly opposing her entry.

Sasikala will be touring Ramanathapuram and Madurai in southern Tamil Nadu on Friday to pay respects and homage at the memorial of U. Muthuramalinga Thevar, regarded as the doyen of the Thevar movement in the state and a powerful leader in south Tamil Nadu whose legacy is intact among the people of the area.

V. K. Sasikala, Sasikala Natarajan
Sasikala NatarajanReuters

She will also garland the statues of Thevar and Marudu Pandhiar brothers in Madurai.

The tour of Sasikala is considered a move to get back into the party with the support and blessings of the community to which she belongs. The AIADMK is totally divided over Sasikala and her repeated moves to get a foothold within the party.

The first open sign of Sasikala getting support had come out after former Chief Minister, O. Panneerselvam, a fellow Thevar, stated on Monday in a press conference at his home turf Theni that the entry of Sasikala is to be decided by the party high command.

A few days before that, Palaniswami had stated that there was no question of Sasikala coming back to the party.

Several leaders in the party also have come out in the open against Sasikala's entry with D. Jayakumar and K.P. Munnuswamy stating that there was no place for Sasikala in the party. AIADMK official leadership had even filed a police case against her for identifying herself as the party's General Secretary.

While Palanaiswami and his associates are opposing the moves for Sasikala's entry, the surprise stand taken by Panneerselvam is considered as due to the support she has gained from within the Thevar community.

OP's support

Even after Panneerselvam had openly aired his support in the entry of Sasikala, not many leaders from even south Tamil Nadu have voiced their opinion on her coming back to the party.

This, according to political observers, is due to the uncertainty on the support she may garner from the larger cross-section of the general public.

"Sasikala has not got the support she intended to get but the statement of Panneerselvam that party high command would decide on her entry is a shot in the arm for her. This statement is naturally due to the support she has in the Thevar community which is a big political force in south Tamil Nadu and Pannerselvam being a member of the community cannot oppose it.

"However no other leader of stature has aired open support for her but opposition to her entry is heavy with leaders like Palaniswami, Munuswamy, Jayakumar, and CVe Shanmugham openly opposing her coming back," Chennai thinks tank Centre for Policy and Development Studies Director C. Rajeev told IANS.