But the mild-mannered caretaker chief minister, OPS, dramatically rebelled last week, saying he would be a better protector of Jayalithaa's legacy. He did so after a forty-minute meditation at Jayalalithaa's grave, an event which is already featuring in the wall posters - with the former chief minister, who died in December, seeming almost to rise from the dead to give benediction to her chosen one.
But, just to make things more complicated ... much more complicated ... OPS had by then submitted his resignation as chief minister (under duress, he now says) in favour of, yes, Sasikala.
And ... an added bit of spice ... Sasikala is involved in a corruption-related legal case on which the Supreme Court is expected to pass judgement as early as Tuesday. The state governor, who decides who should be asked to form the government, has made clear he doesn't want to swear in Sasikala as chief minister if there's a chance should could be disqualified a day or two later.
Support is starting to drain from Sasikala - a few more defections from her ranks, and (when opposition parties' votes are also taken into account) she may not have a majority in the state assembly. Public opinion seems to be against her - 'she's vicious', one passer-by told me, 'and her family will loot the state'.
The word among the throng of journalists who are devouring every morsel of this political scrap is that Sasikala may press her demand to be named as chief minister by staging a Gandhi-style public hunger strike. Where? Well quite possibly at Jayalalithaa's grave on the sea front. That's where all the action is! Walking around the beach area this morning, I saw clear signs that the police are ready to deal with any protests that turn unruly.
For the news media, it's a dream come true. Satellite vans, camera crews and curious passers-by are congregating outside Sasikala's home in Poes Garden - the home she used to share with Jayalalithaa.
And she does have some public support - this group of Sasikala loyalists, on their way to her home, were keen I took their photo.
A mile or two away, outside OPS's home on Greenways Road, his supporters put on a more exuberant display - complete with drummers, dancing and all the tamasha you associate with Indian politics. 'Go through', urged the woman police officer at the end of the road, ' you will enjoy it!'
And of course, while Jayalithaa's old party tears itself apart, rival parties are sitting back and enjoying the spectacle - and adding to the mischief every so often. So the politician with most to gain is M.K. Stalin, the leading figure in Tamil Nadu's main opposition party (in case you are wondering, he was born in the week that Josef Stalin died and named after him). Keep tuned in!
Gosh, you are really enjoying it all Andy ! Awaiting the next book on the socio political dynamics of the idli land !
A term in chennai, to fact or not to fast, the great methods about political drama has seen long time. I am using the andrewwhitehead blog for great tips on mannered caretaker wall posters.
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