One Sasikala is out, another Sasikala is in.
The Supreme Court verdict against VK Sasikala in a corruption case has given new hope to L Sasikala Pushpa to come to the frontline of Tamil Nadu politics.
She supports O Panneerselvam, the caretaker chief minister.
A rebel AIADMK member and Rajya Sabha parliamentarian, she has been in the news for opposing the appointment of Sasikala to the post that late party supremo J Jayalalithaa once held.
Sasikala Pushpa was expelled from the AIADMK by the late chief minister after she allegedly slapped Trichy Siva, a DMK parliamentarian in New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi international airport on August 1, 2016.
A former mayor of Tuticorin, Sasikala Pushpa, is from Mudalur near Sathankulam in Tamil Nadu. She was elected to the Rajya Sabha on April 3, 2014.
A couple of days after her expulsion from the AIADMK, she alleged in Parliament that some forces within the party were threatening her and that she was being forced to resign.
She was the first to cry foul when the AIADMK passed a unanimous resolution to work under the leadership of Jayalalithaa’s confidante Sasikala.
After Jayalalithaa’s death last December, Sasikala Pushpa moved the Supreme Court seeking a CBI probe or a judicial investigation into the new party chief’s elevation.
She alleged that Jayalalithaa’s death was “suspicious” as her medical condition was not disclosed, no one was allowed to visit her in hospital, the funeral photographs showed embalming marks, and everything “was kept under wraps”.
Sasikala Pushpa’s lawyers were attacked by party workers and her husband was arrested by Tamil Nadu police a day after a ruckus outside the AIADMK’s office in Chennai over who will succeed Jayalalithaa.
Party spokesperson CR Saraswathi had then said: “Pushpa is no more with the AIADMK and has no right to be present at any meetings.”
Panneerselvam was promoted as chief minister, the post he had filled in twice briefly for Jayalalithaa.
In the weeks that followed, the ruling AIADMK appeared to be running smoothly. Gears began grinding two weeks ago when Panneerselvam said he would not allow Sasikala to replace him as the chief minister as decided by the party.
The Supreme Court’s judgment on Tuesday convicting Sasikala in a disproportionate assets case has added suspense to the ongoing chaos for the chief minister’s chair.
The question being asked now is will it give a new chance to Sasikala Pushpa to reenter the AIADMK.
She might be taken back only if Panneerselvam wins a floor test to prove support of the majority of party legislators in the assembly and retains the chief minister’s post.
For Sasikala Pushpa, a ray of hope has also arisen because the other Sasikala will not be able to contest elections for 10 years or hold public office.