Nandini Krishnan at the India Site:
In most photographs and videos of Jayalalithaa, a dour-faced woman wearing an expression not unlike that of an anxious grandmother watching a toddler bumble about the garden, can be spotted somewhere in the frame. She is Sasikala Natarajan, the close aide and best friend of the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. Some believe she’s also the CM’s puppet master.
Often seen whispering furtively to Jayalalithaa, occasionally caught smiling, and never interviewed, the wary-looking Sasikala was her most – perhaps her only – trusted lieutenant.
On 19 December, 2011, a terse statement was issued from the office of Jayalalithaa. She had expelled Sasikala and 11 of her relatives from the AIADMK party “with immediate effect”. Within hours a second statement was issued, saying two more people had been asked to go. No explanation was given.
There had, however, been reports of friction between Jayalalithaa and Sasikala during the previous week. The expulsions followed a spate of resignations, sackings, and transfers of key officials who were believed to have been appointed at Sasikala’s instance.
The people who have been dumped from the AIADMK, aside from Sasikala and her husband Natarajan, include several of her nephews, in-laws and distant relatives. Sasikala’s brother Ramachandran, who helped to organise coalition agreements with political allies, and her brother V K Diwakar, who had earlier fallen foul of Jayalalithaa, have also been dismissed.
The sons of two of Sasikala’s sisters and one of her brothers have been asked to leave too. More: