Jayalalithaa niece takes to politics in Jaya-like garb, conditions

The decision of joining AIADMK or starting her own party is a decision Deepa will take "after consulting with the party cadre and the people."

Jayalalithaa niece takes to politics in Jaya-like garb, conditions

Deepa Jayakumar, the niece of former Tamil Nadu chief minister J. Jayalalithaa, today announced that she will enter politics in the state by either joining the AIADMK or by launching a new party. But said she will formally announce her plans on February 24, the birth anniversary of the former Chief Minister - the first after her death last month.

"I am starting a new journey in my life today, I plan to embark on my political journey at an appropriate time," she said, addressing her first press conference on a day the ruling AIADMK marks the birth centenary of its founder MG Ramachandran or MGR, Jayalalithaa's mentor.


She said the decision of joining AIADMK or starting her own party is a decision she will take "after consulting with the party cadre and the people."

In a red sari and a shawl wrapped in the style of her aunt, she also took digs at Jayalalithaa's close friend Sasikala Natarajan, who was recently elected the AIADMK general secretary after decades in the shadows.

"I cannot accept anyone else in Jayalalithaa's position," declared the 42-year-old who bears a striking resemblance to former Chief Minister. In posters over the past few weeks, Deepa has morphed into a Jayalalithaa lookalike, complete with her style of wrapping her sari and waving to supporters.

The London-educated daughter of Jayalalithaa's brother came into the spotlight when she complained last year that she was not allowed to visit her aunt at the Apollo Hospitals in Chennai. Later, she also alleged she was banned from her funeral in December.

"As a blood relative, I wanted to be with her in her most trying times as she was the person I loved the most and I always wanted to be with. I was even looked upon by many as the heir apparent to my aunt," she wrote in a blog on NDTV.

However, reportedly, she hadn't met her aunt or stepped into Jayalalithaa's Poes Garden home since 2007. The friction in the family was because of  Jayalalithaa adopting Sasikala's nephew. After the Chief Minister's father died, all communication stopped.

Over the last few weeks, the crowd of AIADMK workers has been growing slowly but steadily at Deepa's Chennai home. At a recent rally at Jayalalithaa's RK Nagar constituency, a section of the AIADMK cadre openly said, "We don't want Sasikala to contest here. We want Deepa here."

That is not, however, the approved party stand. "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.