Chennai: In a sweeping move, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa sacked from the AIADMK long-time confidant V.K. Sasikala and 13 others who were known to wield enormous clout in the party. Acting a week after she had first indicated that there were problems between her and Sasikala, the chief minister gave no reason for the ouster of the lot that included Sasikala’s husband M. Natarajan. A morning statement named Sasikala and 11 others. A later statement added two more names. Most of them were known to be related to Sasikala, who over the past two decades had emerged as a close companion of Jayalalithaa and was also seen by many as a parallel power centre. In a brief statement, the AIADMK chief, who took power in May, asked party members not to have any dealing with those booted out. There was no reaction from Sasikala, who used to live with the chief minister and was frequently seen in her company both at private and public events. The others expelled from the AIADMK are V. Baskaran, T.T.V. Dinakaran, Diwakar, V.N. Sudhakaran, S. Venkatesh, M. Ramachandran, Ravanan, Mohan, Kulothungan, Rajarajan, V. Mahadevan and V. Thangamani. Jayalalithaa gave no reasons why she was taking this step. But party sources said this could be due to widespread charges of interference by Sasikala and her associates in the running of the administration. It was a week ago that Jayalalithaa had indicated to some of her ministers that it would be good if they distanced themselves from Sasikala. It is rumoured that the Sasikala group was keen on bringing the AIADMK under their control fearing Jayalalithaa could be convicted in the disproportionate assets case now being heard in Bangalore. ”Sasikala had emerged so powerful that few people could reach the chief minister without her (Sasikala’s) knowledge and permission,” said a senior government official who did not want to be identified. The sacking comes ahead of AIADMK’s executive and general council meetings slated for Dec 30 here. Calling Jayalalithaa’s move a bold one, political commentator Gnani told IANS: “The chief minister should explain the reasons behind the sudden expulsion.” According to him, the sacking would not impact the party as “Jayalalithaa is the vote catcher and the mass leader”. ”The dismissed people may not be able to break the party. On the other hand, party cadres would be really happy to hear this news,” he said. Another AIADMK leader told IANS that Jayalalithaa had a strong hold on the party and there was no threat to her leadership. As the news became known, party members gathered outside Jayalaltihaa’s residence and shouted slogans hailing the “revolutionary leaders” – as the chief minister is addressed by admirers. This is the second time Jayalaltihaa has ousted Sasikala from AIADMK. She was expelled the first time after the AIADMK’s defeat in 1996. But the two later reconciled their differences. It was in 80s that Sasikala came into contact with Jayalalithaa, who was then the AIADMK propaganda secretary. Sasikala later ran a video library, and her friendship with Jayalalithaa slowly grew.