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Monday, Oct 21, 2019

Supporters pin hopes on early release of Sasikala from prison

Sasikala has been serving her four-year imprisonment in a Bengaluru prison since February 2017.

india Updated: Sep 10, 2019 01:30 IST
MC Rajan
MC Rajan
Chennai
Sasikala took over the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK)’s leadership before her conviction.
Sasikala took over the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK)’s leadership before her conviction. (HT ARCHIVES)
         

Supporters of V K Sasikala, the incarcerated aide to late former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa, expect her early release and hope it would bring about a political realignment in the state.

Sasikala has been serving her four-year imprisonment in a Bengaluru prison since February 2017 when the Supreme Court upheld her conviction in a disproportionate assets case. She took over the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK)’s leadership before her conviction and staked claim to become the chief minister after Jayalalithaa’s death in December 2016.

This prompted then chief minister O Panneerselvam to split the party while Sasikala was sent to prison. Sasikala installed Edappadi K Palanisamy (EPS) as chief minister, who got O Panneerselvam (OPS) back into the party and ousted her along with her nephew, Dhinakaran, who launched Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK).

“The prospect of Chinnamma [Sasikala] securing a premature release in a few months is very bright on the basis of her good conduct. The Karnataka prison manual has provisions for that and her sentence, too, is simple imprisonment. Considering the holidays for a year and her conduct, she is expected to step out in February,” said AMMK leader V Pugazhendhi. He added Sasikala earlier served four months in prison, which means she has completed nearly three years of her term and is eligible for premature release.

Pugazhendhi said Sasikala’s early release would “set the ball rolling” for the AIADMK’s realignment and bring stability to the party.

He added they are for unity if Sasikala is accommodated. Pugazhendhi said the dual leadership in the AIADMK of chief minister EPS and his deputy, OPS, has not provided the required stability. “The AMMK has also faced setbacks with many leaders deserting the party under Dhinakaran’s leadership. She [Sasikala] alone could be the unifying force,” he said.

Pugazhendhi said barring fisheries minister D Jayakumarneither, neither EPS nor any other member of his cabinet has criticised Sasikala.

Jayakumar has maintained both Sasikala and Dhinakaran were unwelcome. AIADMK spokeswoman Sivasankari said the question of accommodating Sasikala does not arise. “The rank and file of the party have accepted the diarchy [dual leadership]... We are on an onward march and there is no reason to rehabilitate those whom we have discarded,” she said.

Political analyst Babu Jayakumar said all the AIADMK ministers, and lawmakers, as well as front line leaders, owe their positions to Sasikala. “EPS himself was her nominee and he seldom utters a word against her and there are unconfirmed reports that he is in touch with her,’’ said Jayakumar. “In the event of her premature release, she might try to take control of the party and regain her place, leaving the government to run its full course.”

First Published: Sep 10, 2019 01:30 IST

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