M. Natarajan, The Man Who Prevented Jayalalithaa From Quitting Politics India News
M. Natarajan, husband of V.K. Sasikala, died in a private hospital in Chennai early on Tuesday.
He was 75 and is survived by his wife, brothers and sisters. In November 2017, he underwent liver and kidney transplantation.
In March 1989, when Jayalalithaa was the leader of the Opposition and wrote a letter to the Speaker announcing her decision to resign as MLA and quit politics altogether, it was Mr. Natarajan who ensured that the letter did not reach the Speaker.
MN, as he was known in political circles, had his loyalists in Poes Garden and they alerted him about the letter and he collected it from them and kept it at his residence. The then DMK government conducted a search at his residence based on a complaint from Theni Eswaran and a few others who contested in the 1989 elections and seized the letter. It was subsequently released to the media and the events that followed led to Jayalalithaa asserting her position in Tamil Nadu politics.
Mr. Natarajan, a native of Vilar in Thanjavur, entered politics as a student leader during the anti-Hindi agitation days. He gained prominence while studying in King Serfoji College in Thanjavur and later at Annamalai University. He had recorded everything in his autobiography Nenjam Sumakkum Ninaivugal serialised in the now defunct magazine Tamilarasi. He was also the editor of Puthiya Parvai magazine.
When DMK founder C.N. Annadurai and M. Karunanidhi had some difference of opinion, Mr. Natarajan brought them together in a public meeting in Thanjavur.
His marriage with Sasikala was presided over by the then Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi.
Mr. Natarajan’s closeness to senior DMK leader L. Ganesan, who co-ordinated with students during the anti-Hindi agitation, helped him gain prominence. He worked vigorously for Mr. Ganesan in the 1967 election and later sought a ticket for himself in the 1971 election. But Mr. Ganesan dissuaded him from entering politics and got him a job as a pubic relations officer in the Tamil Nadu government. It was while working in Cuddalore that he got the opportunity to move closely with Jayalalithaa.
IAS officer Chandralekha, who was the District Collector, made arrangements for Jayalalithaa’s public meeting in Cuddalore on the advice of AIADMK founder and Chief Minister M.G. Ramachandran. Sasikala, who owned a video recording and cassette-lending shop, was given the task of videotaping the meeting.
The couple got an introduction to Jayalalithaa during the event and it developed into a strong bond, helping them to emerge as a powerful couple in Tamil Nadu politics.
Jayalalithaa had a roller-coaster relationship with Mr. Natarajan and Sasikala. Initially the couple stayed with her in Poes Garden. Mr. Natarajan was accused of dominating her but Jayalalithaa issued statements explaining that she was not under the control of anyone and clarified that Mr. Natarajan and Sasikala were her friends. But later she issued a circular to party men not to have any truck with him and expelled him from her household. Sasikala continued to stay in Poes Garden.
She also expelled Sasikala and eleven others from her residence in 2011. But Sasikala re-entered Poes Garden after submitting an apology and distancing herself from Natarajan.
Mr. Natarajan maintained relationships with leaders cutting across party lines. He was a strong supporter of the Sri Lankan Tamil cause. After the defeat of the LTTE in Mullivaaikal, he made arrangements to construct a memorial in Thanjavur.
Natarajan also fell foul of the law a few times, and was arrested on various occasions over the years, once for assaulting journalists, once for assaulting an intelligence wing police constable and again on land-grabbing charges. However, he was convicted only once.
At the time of his death, he was under a two-year prison sentence, handed down in 2010 and confirmed by the Madras High Court last November. It was for causing a loss of ₹1.06 crore to the exchequer in 1994 by importing a brand new Lexus car and passing it off as a used one to evade import duty. In January, the Supreme Court allowed him to surrender before the CBI special court here and obtain bail on depositing ₹25 lakh.