Amidst high drama and emotions, AIADMK general secretary VK Sasikala on Wednesday left Veda Nilayam, No. 81, Poes Gardens in Chennai, the mighty power centre with which she was associated for over three decades.
Sasikala headed for Parappana Agrahara central jail on the outskirts of Bengaluru to serve her three-and-a-half-year jail term in a corruption case after the Supreme Court refused to grant her more time to surrender.
Accompanied by her nephew TTV Dinakaran, who was named deputy general secretary of the AIADMK in the morning, and a host of other party leaders, Sasikala came out of Poes Gardens at around 11:30 am amidst emotional outburst from her supporters and party workers who gathered in large numbers at the residence.
She was visibly agitated and disturbed, responding to supporters with folded hands as her convoy waded through the surging crowds. The fact that she would have to spend time in jail, away from power, is something she might have found hard to comprehend.
Draped in a red silk sari, Sasikala, along with her followers, straightaway drove to Jayalalithaa Samadhi at Marina beach, where she paid floral tributes to her departed bosom friend.
She stood there with folded hands for some time before angrily thumping the Samadhi, apparently pledging to stage a comeback and restore the proud legacy of Jayalalithaa.
She also offered floral tributes to AIADMK founder and late chief minister MG Ramachandran.
From Marina beach, she left for Bengaluru by road. The Tamil Nadu police followed the convoy up to the state border, and from there, Karnataka police would take care of her security, a senior police officer said.
The Poes Gardens residence, which wore a quiet look in the morning, started buzzing with activity after reports emanated from inside the house that Sasikala would be leaving for Bengaluru at 10.30 am to surrender before the trial court. A large number of AIADMK leaders and activists poured into the area to express their solidarity with ‘Chinnamma’ Sasikala.
Sporting badges of ‘Amma’ and ‘Chinnamma’, several AIADMK workers assembled there and started raising slogans in support of Sasikala.
However, senior leaders who met her inside Veda Nilayam said Sasikala was not totally disheartened, though she was a little upset.
“We will safeguard the party till she returns from jail. Under any circumstances, we shall not allow any split in the AIADMK. We are confident that she would come back from jail soon and take over the reins of the party and the government,” former MLA from Ambattur constituency S Vedachalam told Hindustan Times.
V Krishna Rao, founder-president of Dravida Desam and who has been close to late Jayalalithaa for over two decades, also met Chinnamma in the morning and spent over half an hour with her and her family members.
“When leaders like Sibu Soren of Jharkhand who also faced corruption charges could come back to power, why can’t Sasikala? She will return to power within no time,” he said.
An AIADMK worker Vedavathi, who broke down on seeing Sasikala coming out in car to go Bengaluru jail, alleged that she had become a victim of conspiracies hatched by rivals. “Chinnamma will come back,” she said.