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Mannargudi mafia

Mannargudi mafia
Highlights

If the Supreme Court had not convicted AIADMK general secretary Sasikala in the Rs 66 crore disproportionate assets case and awarded her a prison term...

If the Supreme Court had not convicted AIADMK general secretary Sasikala in the Rs 66 crore disproportionate assets case and awarded her a prison term of four years, she would have almost bagged chiefministership of Tamil Nadu. Now, she cannot become the CM, or contest elections for 10 years which includes the four years of prison term. Much of hatred against her is because of her alleged involvement in the activities of the so-called ‘Mannargudi Mafia,’ which ultimately led to her conviction.

Mannargudi mafia is a term used to describe a coterie of her immediate relatives who wielded enormous influence in the state due to Sasikala's close proximity to late Chief Minister JJayalalithaa. Sasikala hails from Mannargudi, a small town in Tiruvarur district in the Cauvery delta of Tamil Nadu. She is the wife of M Natarajan, who worked as a PRO in the state government. Initially, she used to run a video cassette rental shop.

Introduced to Jayalalithaa by her husband in late eighties, she won the confidence of Jayalalithaa and became her close confidante. With Jayalalithaa becoming the CM in 1991, she moved into Poes Garden with her family to take care of Jaya’s household affairs. She allegedly managed to secure several key posts in the government machinery for her relatives. Soon, she was controlling anybody’s access to Jayalalithaa.

Her family members Dhinakaran, Sudhakaran and Bhaskaran were the core of the infamous Mannargudi mafia they were named after. Allegedly because of their coercive methods, they were branded as a mafia. Sasikala’s influence on Jayalalithaa was such in 1995, Jaya adopted her nephew Sudhakaran and married him off to Sivaji Ganesan's granddaughter in a "mother of all weddings". The Mannargudi mafia became so notorious that Jayalalithaa’s defeat in 1996 was blamed on them by analysts.

Before coming to power for second term, Jaya realised the damage caused to her reputation and disowned Sudhakaran. She even expelled Sasikala and her family from her house before becoming the CM for third term in 2011. But she soon patched up with Sasikala, who came to be known as her ‘soul sister’ by this time.

Sasikala publicly claimed to have severed all connections with her family. And the Jaya government even sent some of them to prison. It is alleged that in 2016 elections when Jaya become the CM for the fourth time, Sasikala got tickets to many people and that’s why a majority of MLAs supported her ascension to AIADMK General Secretary and even stood by her in her bid to become the CM.

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