Chennai: The 'return' of Sasikala's husband Natarajan the day Jayalalithaa was laid to rest may have surprised many and angered a few, but those who have been watching the man closely knew this was bound to happen.
In the first place, Natarajan, who began as propaganda advisor to MG Ramachandran and was later behind the rise of Jayalalithaa and Sasikala, was not gone anywhere over the past few years. He has been merely lying low.
Natarajan has good friends in both the Congress and BJP. Highly reliable sources within the Congress say that he got in touch with a top central leader in Delhi telling him to advise Rahul Gandhi to visit Jaya in Apollo Hospital. It did come as a surprise when Rahul turned up immediately after just completing his Uttar Pradesh yatra .
What many noticed then was that he didn't go to meet Karunanidhi who was not keeping well. And DMK has been an ally of the Congress
But Natarajan's eye was not so much on the Congress which he knew was a spent force in Tamil Nadu . His eye was on something beyond that. On his own survival. It was on the BJP.
Insiders say by it was by then becoming clear Jaya's condition was serious and that even if she were to come back home she may not be her old self again. Natarajan had to move in quick to ensure he and Sasikala are not left out in the race should anything happen to Amma. This despite the fact that sasikala's clout was undeniable.
The visit by Rahul Gandhi had its desired effect. Amit Shah and other BJP leaders went to meet Jaya in hospital .
For the BJP, AIADMK has been a valuable friend and also a window to the south. With Amma gone, BJP does need AIADMK for some time. It has 48 MPs which would come in useful not just for legislative business, but also for presidential polls next year .
BJP realises that Sasikala could emerge the new power centre and it has already one weapon against her - the disproportionate assets case against Jayalalithaa also mentions Sasikala.
But why did Rahul show interest? Well he has never been comfortable with the idea of going back to doing business with the DMK after the 2014 polls.
Congress hopes that the possible disarray could give a chance for the party to sneak in. But Congress is on the wane and is failing to check the slow rise of BJP which is now opening offices in every district of Tamil Nadu.
Sources within Congress have confirmed to News18 that Rahul wants his Tamil Nadu unit to reach out to Sasikala and Paneerselvam and, if need be, Natarajan could be the man to tap. In fact, the new Tamil Congress president Thirunavakkarasu was formerly in the BJP and close to Natarajan.
What cannot be missed is the fact that while Rahul dashed to the city for Jaya's funeral, he didn't take time out to meet Karunanidhi who was admitted in hospital.
A clear message where the priorities are.