Southern Notes: The Sasikala conundrum

Two theories are doing the rounds: One, Sasikala was disappointed that both CM E Palaniswamy and Dy CM O Panneerselvam would not allow her back into AIADMK. Second, BJP told her to stay away

Southern Notes: The Sasikala conundrum

SS Kumar

The Sasikala conundrum

What prompted Jayalalithaa’s former aide VK Sasikala’s decision to steer clear of politics? Given the rousing welcome she received when she returned to Tamil Nadu after her release from a Bengaluru prison, it appeared she was all set to claim late Jayalalithaa’s legacy. Her carefully worded statement gave no clue, apart from saying that the ‘evil DMK’ had to be defeated and praying for Amma rule in the state.

Two theories are doing the rounds: one, she was disappointed that both CM Edappadi Palaniswamy and Deputy CM O Panneerselvam would not allow her back into the AIADMK. Second, the BJP tried to persuade the AIADMK to join hands with her but were firmly rebuffed; and that the BJP told her to stay away in order not to split the AIADMK vote.

The second is the more likely explanation; Sasikala will hardly want to get on the wrong side of the ruling party at the Centre at a time when questions have been raised about her property acquisitions.

Where does that leave the nephew?

Sasikala’s decision to sit it out – for her statement does not rule out an entry into politics in future – has left her nephew, TTV Dhinakaran, in a fix. Dhinakran, who was the AIADMK’s Periyakulam MP from 1999 to 2004, lost in 2004. After the death of Jayalalithaa, he won the by-election to the RK Nagar Assembly constituency – which was held by the former chief minister – in 2017 as an Independent candidate with a huge majority. He had been expelled by the AIADMK earlier in August.

Dhinakaran had been appointed deputy secretary of the AIADMK in February 2017 just before his aunt surrendered in a Karnataka court to begin a prison term in Bengaluru on corruption charges.

Subsequently, with Sasikala’s blessings, he formed the Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam [AMMK]; with Sasikala barred from contesting because of her conviction, it was expected he would be the electoral face of the AMMK. It is not clear what he will do now, given that Sasikala has said she would quit politics for now.

IPS officer not spared sexual harassment

Late in February, an SP-rank IPS woman officer in Tamil Nadu made accused a 3-star IPS officer in the rank of Special DGP of sexual harassment. The woman officer, driving down to Chennai to complain to the Home Secretary and the DGP, was intercepted at a toll plaza by hordes of policemen, forced out of her car and asked to speak to the very officer she had lodged a complaint against and come to a settlement.

This was allegedly done at the behest of the concerned district SP concerned on orders of the Special DGP. The woman officer, to her credit, stood her ground and went ahead with the complaint; she said she had been asked by the senior officer to accompany him in his car during the chief minister’s visit to western Tamil Nadu and subjected to harassment.

The said officer has been relieved of his duties, and is now facing an investigation by the crime branch. Moreover, the high court has taken suo motu notice and said it will monitor the investigation to see that justice is done. The woman officer has been backed by 10 of her IPS women colleagues from the state.

Back from the dead

A young man declared brain dead by doctors was found to be alive on the autopsy table in Karnataka’s Belagavi town recently. The 27-year-old, the victim of a bike accident, was taken to hospital, where doctors declared him brain dead after two days, and asked the family to take him away.

The body was shifted to a government hospital in the town of Bagalkote for the mandatory post-mortem before the funeral. But when the pathologist touched the body on the examining table, he felt a twitch; the alert doctor did a pulse oximeter check, and found a faint heartbeat and pulse.

Meanwhile, the family had announced that he had died and a crowd of relatives and friends had gathered for the funeral when it was discovered that he was still alive. The man had been on ventilator support till then, and his vital organs were fortunately not impaired. Doctors now believe he can make a full recovery.

The class and digital divide

The rich-poor divide has been revealed in stark terms by the report of an international body on digital learning in the Telugu speaking states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. The Young Lives study on the covid 19 pandemic’s impact on education, employment, food security and mental health, reported that one in five students enrolled in educational institutions – where about half the classes are online – have stopped learning, mainly because of limited access to digital learning; they are primarily from the poorest sections, rural areas and children of parents with no formal education.

This suggests that they may have lost an entire year of schooling/college. It also showed that this impact was disproportionate: girls were more likely to have stopped learning than boys. The data show that the trend of children dropping out of schools to pursue employment had slowed, but that it was still greater than before the pandemic.

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