Ahead of the upcoming Tamil Nadu Assembly Elections 2021, expelled AIADMK leader VK Sasikala is set to return to the state on February 7, 2021, and the course of action she now takes would be watched keenly.
Sasikala was admitted to the Victoria Hospital after she tested positive for Covid-19 recently while under judicial custody. On the advice of doctors, she remained in the hospital and was discharged on Sunday (January 31) after her latest test reports came negative for coronavirus.
Sasikala was in the Parappana Agrahara Prison in the Karnataka capital from February 15, 2017, and she was set free on January 27 by authorities after completion of her four-year prison term in a corruption case.
She would start at 9 am on February 7 from Bengaluru and reach 'T Nagar residence' in Chennai by road.
Expulsion of five AIADMK workers
'Chemical' changes were on in Tamil Nadu, ahead of her arrival, Dhinakaran, Sasikala's nephew, said, apparently referring to actions like the expulsion of five AIADMK workers for pasting wall posters in her support.
The people and Amma's (Jayalalithaa) true cadres would usher in "Amma's government again in Tamil Nadu and Chinnamma (Sasikala) will play a vital role (in elections and in government formation)," he said and reiterated legal and democratic efforts to win back the AIADMK.
Party back into the hands of Sasikala?
Retrieving the AIADMK implies bringing the party back into the hands of Sasikala from the leadership of Chief Minister K Palaniswami (co-coordinator) and Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam (coordinator) and elections to the Assembly are likely in April or early May.
A political battle?
After Sasikala got out of the hospital, she hinted at a political battle – She sent out a strong message to the AIADMK and travelled in a car that sported AIADMK’s flag.
In a tweet, political analyst Sumanth Raman wrote, “#Sasikala coming out of the hospital in a car with an AIADMK flag on it seems to be a clear signal of her intentions. Game on.”
The ruling party questioned the propriety of Sasikala’s action when she had been ousted from the party. The AIADMK has time and again made it clear that Sasikala would not be taken back and her release would not have any impact on the party, which is keen to retain power in the assembly elections, expected in April-May.
The party has already declared incumbent K Palaniswami as the chief ministerial candidate for the polls.
Who is Sasikala?
Sasikala Natarajan, 66, also known as VK Sasikala was a close aide of late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa. In September 2017, she was expelled from the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) party along with her nephew TTV Dhinakaran and others by the general counsel of the combined AIADMK under the leadership of Palaniswami and his deputy O Panneerselvam after the two merged their respective factions.
On February 14, 2017, the Supreme Court sentenced her to four-year simple imprisonment at a time when she was set to take over as the Chief Minister subsequent to her election as the AIADMK legislature party leader.
She was also barred from contesting elections for six years after completion of the term, she chose Palaniswami to be the chief minister.
Before going to Bengaluru to serve the sentence, Sasikala had made a dramatic vow at the ‘samadhi’ of Jayalalithaa, though she did not openly declare what it was all about.
What Dhinakaran said?
Defending Sasikala after the backlash for having AIADMK’s flag on her car, Dhinakaran, who is the general secretary of Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK) floated by him in March 2018 as an arrangement to retrieve the AIADMK, claimed: “she is the general secretary of the AIADMK.”
“Sasikala will have a bigger role in the formation of the next AIADMK government,” Dhinakaran said on Wednesday.
He earlier said cases relating to her so-called ‘expulsion’ and connected matters were pending before the court in Tamil Nadu, adding “I have already told you that legal fight will continue (to retrieve the AIADMK).”
However, AIADMK deputy coordinator KP Munusamy has rejected Dhinakaran’s repeated claim that “Sasikala is the general secretary.”
He said the party decided that late leader ‘Amma’ alone could be the permanent general secretary and reflecting this position, party rules were amended and a new party structure of coordinator, co-coordinator and deputy coordinators was brought in.
“The opinion that Sasikala is the general secretary is expressed out of selfishness. It is not acceptable,” he said. He denounced Sasikala using the party flag in her car and said it was ‘condemnable’ since she was not with the party.
With PTI inputs