Prison confirmation on Sasikala’s release in January 2021 creates flutter in Tamil Nadu politics

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The confirmation about the early release of Sasikala was given by the prison authorities on a query by a Bengaluru lawyer and activist, Narasimha Murthy.

A Right to Information reply given by Parappana Agrahara Central Prison confirming the release of VK Sasikala, the aide of late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa and a convict in the Tamil Nadu disproportionate assets case, on January 27, 2021 has created flutter in the state politics.

The confirmation was given on a query by a Bengaluru lawyer and activist, Narasimha Murthy. This date, however, may be deferred by a year, to February 2022, if Sasikala chooses to not pay the in-default fine of Rs.10 crore as ordered by the court. Further, the date may also vary if Sasikala chooses to apply for further parole.

The Supreme Court of India convicted Sasikala, and other co-accused and awarded four years' imprisonment and Rs 10 crore fine under the Prevention of Corruption Act for amassing assets disproportionate to her known income. Prior to this, Sasikala has been imprisoned at different periods in 1997 and 2014 for the same case, which would be counted as part of her jail stint.

With the elections to the Tamil Nadu Assembly scheduled to take place in April 2021, the prospect of Sasikala’s release has become a major talking point in the state. Sasikala’s nephew TTV Dinakaran, who, launched the Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam after he lost his battle for the AIADMK’s “two leaves” symbol, has already started preparing ground for her return to politics.

Before her conviction, Sasikala, the second most powerful person in the party, had made a bid for the chief minister’s post after Jayalalithaa’s death. But she lost the bid after the Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s order sentencing her to four years in jail.

The AIADMK is not the same as it was before Sasikala went to jail. O Panneerselvam, who had revolted against Sasikala and her family, eventually merged his faction with the parent party in 2018 and became the deputy chief minister.

Edappadi K Palaniswamy, who prostrated before Sasikala at a legislature party meeting when she picked him as chief minister just before she headed to jail, disowned her and her family and cemented his position by joining hands with Panneerselvam and forging an alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party.

When Dinakaran won the RK Nagar bye-poll in December 2017, the seat that Jayalalithaa held until she died, was seen as a formidable emerging force who could disrupt the plans of the original AIADMK. But his party failed miserably in the Lok Sabha elections and several bye-elections held last year and has since remained mostly muted.

The question being hotly debated in political circles in Tamil Nad is would Sasikala’s return rekindle the simmering problems in the AIADMK or would the ruling party be able to neutralise her political manoeuvring (with inputs from Scroll.in)

Image Credit: News Minute

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