The political crisis in Tamil Nadu escalated after the Supreme Court convicted AIADMK general secretary VK Sasikala in a disproportionate assets case on Tuesday, delivering a blow to her chances of becoming the chief minister.
The court found the 61-year-old and two others guilty in the 21-year-old corruption case and asked Sasikala to surrender. The judgment bars Sasikala from holding a public office and contesting elections for at least next six years, strengthening the hand of caretaker chief minister O Panneerselvam, who has been locked in a bitter power struggle with her.
Sasikala reacted to the conviction by making an emotional address to the MLAs while Jayalalithaa’s niece Deepa pledged support to the Panneerselvam camp, paving the way for her entry into politics.
Here are the highlights from Tamil Nadu and Delhi on a day of hectic political and legal activities.
10:20pm: “I’m sure we’ll get the invitation (to form government) as soon as possible because we remained quiet,” an emotional Sasikala says, adding that “no force can separate me from AIADMK; no matter where I’ll be, I’ll always think about party”.
The case was filed by DMK, I’ll handle this. You (AIADMK legislators) have to remain resolute and make sure people question DMK’s existence: ANI quotes Sasikala as saying to party legislators.
10:15pm: Tamil Nadu ministers Jayakumar, Benjamin and Nilofer Kapil extended support to O Panneerselvam. They are likely to meet the chief minister on Wednesday.
10:05pm: “I and OPS will act as the two hands of AIADMK,” TV channels quote Deepa as saying.
We will work together in future: Deepa says after meeting Panneerselvam
9:50pm: Jayalalithaa’s niece Deepa answers in affirmative after being asked if this is her official entry into politics, ANI reports. “Yes, it is.”
9:35pm: TV visuals show Sasikala leaving the Koothavur resort, first time in public view after her conviction.
Sasikala is travelling in Jayalalithaa’s former car and is believed to be heading back to Poes Garden. Reports say the AIADMK general secretary could be leaving for Bengaluru to surrender on Wednesday.
9:30pm: Jaya’s niece Deepa also joins OPS camp at the memorial. There was speculation that Deepa could extend support to the OPS camp after she hailed the SC verdict convicting Sasikala.
9:20pm: Chief minister O Panneerselvam on his way to Jayalalithaa’s memorial, where had a week before rebelled and said that he was forced to resign despite being chosen by Amma to be the chief minister of Tamil Nadu.
VK Sasikala leaves Kuvathur's Golden Bay resort. pic.twitter.com/tjATMkQy2u— ANI (@ANI_news) February 14, 2017
9pm: Media protest outside Koovathur resort after an ADMK cadre assaults a journalist.
Meanwhile, AIADMK leader Thaniyarasu tells ANI the lawmakers have not been held at the Golden Bay resort “against our wishes... we are here as a united family”.
8:15pm: Cops from Bengaluru are reportedly going to Chennai to talk to police.
7:45pm: SC also restored a trial court direction to confiscate properties allegedly registered in the name of six firms, following Sasikala’s conviction in the disproportionate assets case.
7pm: MLAs supporting caretaker CM Panneerselvam met the governor shortly after Sasikala’s nominee Palaniswami claimed support of a majority of AIADMK legislators.
Leaders Maitreyan and Pandian met governor Vidyasagar Rao.
Tamil Nadu DGP Rajendran and police commissioner S George are also at the Raj Bhavan to discuss the law and order situation.
6pm: Tamil Nadu chief minister O Panneerselvam also likely to meet governor C Vidyasagar Rao at 7pm today.
5:45pm: Edappadi Palaniswami stakes claim to form government and submits a list of MLAs supporting him to governor in a brief five minute meeting at Raj Bhavan.
5:15pm: AIADMK legislative leader Palaniswami reaches Raj Bhavan to meet Tamil Nadu governor C Vidyasagar Rao. The governor could ask him to prove majority as Palaniswami stakes claim to form government in the state after Sasikala’s conviction in the DA case.
Palaniswami claims the support of 135 MLAs, India TV reports.
5pm: Legislators from Sasikala camp are on their way to meet the governor in Chennai. Their meeting is scheduled at 5:30pm.
4:40pm: Reports say Sasikala may not surrender today as a copy of the SC verdict has not been received by the police or the AIADMK leader convicted in the corruption case.
According to other unconfirmed reports, Sasikala filed an application in Supreme Court, seeking four weeks time to surrender due to health reason.
4:30pm: Ahead of Palaniswami’s meeting with governor, sources say composite floor test in Tamil Nadu can keep O Pannerselvam in the running for Tamil Nadu chief minister.
4:20pm: Whoever will lead AIADMK shouldn’t be a puppet of the Sasikala clan and should be someone chosen by Jayalalithaa, the late Tamil Nadu chief minister’s niece Deepa says, hinting at her support for OPS.
4:15pm: BJP urges governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao to take a decision on the basis of numbers and credibility, PTI reports.
3:55pm: After blocking the Panneerselvam camp from visiting, prohibitory orders have been put in place around the Golden Bay resort where the AIADMK legislators have been holed up for the past few days.
3:50pm: New legislative leader for the AIADMK, Palanisamy, leaves the resort with party MLAs to meet Tamil Nadu governor, according to TV channels. The appointment is scheduled for 5:30pm on Tuesday evening.
3:37pm: Governor Rao could meet AIADMK proxy leader Palanisamy today evening, media reports say.
In a letter to Rao on Tuesday, Palanisamy had said: “I may be given appointment to submit the list of AIADMK MLAs supporting me as leader of the AIADMK legislature party... I may be invited to form the cabinet.”
3:19pm: Section 144 has been imposed in Kuvatthur area in Kanchipuram district.
3:10pm: Paneerselvam’s supporters stopped by police on their way to Golden Bay resort. MLA Semmalai says the AIADMK leaders were prevented from entering the resort.
2:58pm: The real cadre of the AIADMK also is happy that Sasikala is going to jail: Deepa Jayaraman
2:51pm: This judgement has been long in coming, and I think it is most welcome by the people of Tamil Nadu: Jayalalithaa’s niece Deepa Jayaraman
2:36pm: Sasikala expels scores of “rebels”, including minister K Pandiarajan and senior leader C Ponnaiyan, reports PTI
2:27pm: AIADMK MLAs say they won’t leave resort until governor Rao meets them
2:00pm: We have sent a letter to Governor and are awaiting his reply, says Palaniswami
1:57pm: We will file review petition, a new legislature party leader has been elected. Panneerselvam is no longer a party member: M Thambidurai to ANI
1:28pm: Letter signed by MLAs supporting Edappadi K Palaniswami as the AIADMK’s legislature party leader sent to governor
1:20pm: Sasikala to be taken into custody soon, say sources. She will be taken to Bengaluru trial court from where she will be sent to jail. Tamil Nadu police to take her into custody by Tuesday evening.
1:10pm: O Panneerselvam and 12 MPs are going to Golden Bay resort where 129 MLAs and Sasikala are present.
1:05pm: Request governor to take steps to establish stable management in the state, says DMK’s MK Stalin
12:48pm: I bow in humility to your love and affection. We will form a govt without the help of any other party, says Pannerselvam
12:46pm: Amma’s atma is still around us and will guide us on the right path, says Panneerselvam
12:43pm: Panneerselvam expelled from primary membership of AIADMK by Sasikala camp, Edappadi K Palaniswami named CM candidate after meeting of AIADMK MLAs at Golden Bay resort
If we stay united, we will have paid the greatest tribute to Jayalalithaa Amma said Panneerselvam— K V Lakshmana (@kvlakshman) February 14, 2017
12:24pm: Let us forget the differences, temporary fight and come together to defeat the Oppn, he says.
12:23pm: Panneerselvam appeals to all MLAs to take a decision after assessing the current political scenario in the state.
12:21pm: Minister Vijayabhaskar told mediapersons that a new leader of the AIADMK legislative party will be elected shortly. As many as 125 MLAs are meeting with Sasikala, the party general secretary who holds the post now.
12:25pm: “I expect that the AIADMK legislators will now meet to elect a leader. If there is only one claimant, the governor can swear in the claimant and ask him to prove his majority. If there are two claimants, the governor should call for a composite vote (following the UP precedent). I have no comment on the judgement. It is a SC judgement and we are all bound by the judgement,” says P Chidambaram.
12:20pm: Mylapore MLA and former Tamil Nadu DGP Nataraj too join the OPS camp
12:14pm: Sasikala toying with names: Edapaddi Palaniswami, KA Sengottaiyan and Deepak Jayaram, nephew of Jayalalithaa as alternate CM candidates, say sources
12:10pm: Cops allowing Sasikala to interact with her close supporters, ministers on future course of action.
11:55am: VK Sasikala’s brother Divakaran and her nephew TTV Dinakaran are also inside Golden Bay resort, reports ANI
11:45am: Sasikala is reportedly addressing her party MLAs inside the resort. She is likely to activate her ‘Plan B’ to nominate another MLA for the job, reports KV Lakshmana
Sasikala will have to surrender in Bengaluru court immediately. She is likely to be driven there today itself, sources said.— K V Lakshmana (@kvlakshman) February 14, 2017
11:15am: Panneerselvam’s supporters gather outside his residence after the DA case verdict that convicted Sasikala, reports ANI.
11:13am: “This is a great success for Tamil Nadu people. It is a victory of truth and judicial system,” DMK’s Tamilan Prasanna tells ANI.
In the past whenever Amma was in crisis, I also suffered this time also I will take it upon me. 'Dharma' will win: AIADMK quotes #VKSasikala— ANI (@ANI_news) February 14, 2017
11:09am: “I was expecting the conviction. I don’t think she can escape the four years sentence,” Subramanian Swamy tells ANI.
11:05am: “Justice has been done. Judgement shows how strong and independent is our judiciary,” former advocate general BV Acharya to ANI.
Two hundres more personnel of Rapid Action Force rush to Kuvathur Golden Bay resort where Sasikala camped along with AIADK MLAs.— K V Lakshmana (@kvlakshman) February 14, 2017
11:01am: Shock at Kuvathur, where the MLAs are camping, after an SC verdict convicting Sasikala.
10:57am: TV reports say police enter Golden Bay Resorts where Sasikala and MLAs believed to be loyal to her have been camping.
10:49am: SC judgement on Sasikala runs into more than 500 pages
SC expressed deep concerns regarding menace of corruption in society: Justice AK Roy writes separate but concurring judgement @htTweets— bhadra sinha (@BhadraSinha) February 14, 2017
10:47am: SC, however, found incriminating evidence against Jayalalithaa.
10:46am: Proceedings against former CM Jayalalitha’s stand abated.
10:44am: Sasikala barred from fighting elections for ten years. She will spend four years in jail after which she can’t contest for 6 years.
10:43am: The apex court reverses a 2015 Karnataka HC verdict, and restores a trial court order of Rs 10-crore fine and confiscation of properties.
10:38am: Trial court to take Sasikala and others into custody.
10:37am: Supreme Court convicts Sasikala, asks her to surrender immediately.
9:50am: One more MLA joins Panneerselvam camp --- just half an hour before the likely Supreme Court verdict in a DA case against Sasikala. Now, nine MLAs are backing OPS.
9:33am: Fisheries minister D Jayakumar arrives at Golden Bay Resorts.
9:00am: AIADMK leader M Thambidurai reaches Golden Bay Resort in Kovathur to meet Sasikala, reports ANI.
8:50am: Policemen deployed outside Poes Garden as a precaution ahead of SC verdict in disproportionate assets case
8:00am: Policemen deployed outside Golden Bay Resort, where MLAs believed to be loyal to Sasikala have been camping. However, there are allegations from rivals that these lawmakers are in captivity.
7:30am: Police on high alert in Chennai and across Tamil Nadu to prevent any untoward incidents ahead of the SC verdict in the DA case.
And here’s what happened so far in the Tamil Nadu power tussle.
Sasikala claims the support of at least 134 MLAs but over the past few days several MPs and other party leaders have pledged support to Panneerselvam, who made a dramatic volte-face last week to claim that he was forced to resign as chief minister by a section of party legislators.
In Chennai, epicentre of the political tremors, Sasikala and Panneerselvam continued to trade charges on Monday. Panneerselvam appeared calm as he made brief speeches to his supporters at his residence and also attended office during the day.
Sasikala, on the other hand, was all aggression as she took on Panneerselvam. “OPS is a traitor…But I can handle 1000s of Panneerselvams,” Sasikala told supporters people outside her Poes Garden residence.
A great escape
A key event on Monday was the escape of a ruling party MLA, who claimed to have made a dramatic appearance at the residence Panneerselvam from a luxury resort where AIADMK legislators are allegedly held captive by Sasikala.
“I disguised myself, changed my get-up, scaled the wall, jumped and escaped,” SS Sarvanan, the MLA from South Madurai.
With the joining of Sarvanan, Panneerselvam’s camp now has eight MLAs and 12 MPs. Sasikala had earlier claimed the support of 134 legislators but is now left with 125. There are 118 MLAs left at the resort.
About the DA case
Tuesday’s judgment will shape up the Tamil Nadu politics for days to come. With conviction, Sasikala will be barred from contesting polls for six years. She will be ineligible to be the chief minister as the Constitution mandates election to the assembly within six months of assuming office.
In a related development, attorney general Mukul Rohatgi advised Tamil Nadu governor Vidyasagar Rao on Monday to hold a composite floor test in the assembly to ascertain the strength of the two claimants to the throne. Rohatgi gave his legal opinion in response to a query from the governor.
(with agency inputs)