In 1985, after MGR’s illness and subsequent hospitalization, Jayalalithaa, then a member of Parliament, was removed from the post of Deputy Leader of the AIADMK Parliamentary Party. In the days that followed she alleged that MGR was not aware of what was being said or done in his name and that a small group of people were manipulating his condition for their own benefit.
The Hindu interviewed her in early 1985, soon after she was removed from the post. Excerpts from the interview:
Q: From what or where do you think they draw their strength, power and courage?
A: It is not real courage. It is sheer audacity, that’s what I said. It is obvious that they are playing a dangerous game. They should never have embarked upon it. This is a trap of their own making.
Q: How do you say their days are numbered? What course of action would bring this about?
A: Look, you know the impasse (in the State administration) and you know the present developments. How long do you think this sort of situation will be allowed to continue? How long can a State remain headless? How long can a State be without a proper administration? How long can a caretaker Cabinet continue indefinitely? The Governor here and the people of the State and the Centre cannot allow the situation to continue indefinitely.
Q: Do you think the State Legislature Party would not reelect them (Nedunchezian and Veerappan)?
A: All this is hypothetical. This remains to be seen. Suspicions have been raised and these suspicions are being fuelled by the actions of the coterie. Now they themselves have set a time-limit. The Governor has committed them to a specific date. The outer limit is February 7. Until that date all we can do is to wait.
Q: Could you specify your “suspicions”?
A: I have already explained them, very explicitly (in the newspapers). The main point of suspicion is that Mr. MGR is not aware of what is being said and done in his name. That is the crux of the matter—that a small group is manipulating Mr. MGR’s helpless condition and making use of his name for their own ends; that he is not aware of what is being done in his name. Is this not an injustice to the country and to the State of Tamil Nadu? Is it not unconstitutional? Is it not a grave injustice they are doing to MGR himself, if this is true?
Q: Two telexes have come from the consular office in New York reportedly carrying MGR’s messages to the effect that nobody but those invited should come to New York …
A: This is something that the Centre must look into. Obviously these messages are given in MGR’s name without his knowledge or consciousness. That is our suspicion. And since these messages have come from the Embassy, it is up to the Centre to investigate the matter and find out if these messages are really bogus.
Q: What makes you say that these messages are obviously fake?
A: Because these people, including Mrs. Janaki Ramachandran…she never had any say in party or administrative matters as long as MGR was active. She had to remain in the background. She is nothing more than a housewife. She dared not interfere or make her presence felt like that. He would never have stood for it. She would not have dared. As for the other people who are involved they were all those side-lined. They dared not assert themselves as long as MGR was active. These are the people who have emerged and seized hold of power after he lapsed into unconsciousness.