Chennai: The Tamil Nadu elections, expected to be held in early 2021 have become more interesting with the likely early release of V K Sasikala, the friend, companion, confidante, and aide or the late Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa.
The term of Sasikala, who is serving four years in a disproportionate assets case, was anyway expected to end in February, but her lawyer said she could be out even in January. She has paid the Rs 10 crore and ten thousand fine levied on her by the court as part of her punishment.
Sasikala’s lawyer, Raja Senthoor Pandian, said that the court has accepted the fine. “Our main goal is her early release. We are pushing prison authorities for no later than January 27,2020,” he said.
“She was on parole for 12 days in March 2018 and for five days in October 2017. Barring that, her term can be reduced, as she is eligible for three days remission on good conduct for each of the 46 months in prison since February 2017,” Pandian said.Four members of Sasikala’s extended family arranged the fine amount, the lawyer said.
Her release could complicate matters for the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and alter political alignments in the state.
In 2017, after the Supreme Court restored the Bengaluru trial court judgment in toto against Sasikala and her two relatives, V N Sudhakaran and J Elavarasi in the disproportionate assets case, she surrendered on February 15, 2017 and she has been serving her sentence since.
Sudhakaran and Elavarasi are also undergoing four years imprisonment in the assets case. All three of them were imposed a fine of Rs 10 crore. Pandian said efforts are on to pay the fins of the other too. .
According to political analysts, Sasikala’s early release could have implications for Tamil Nadu assembly elections.
“Sasikala is a high stakes player. They have to deal with her like they deal with a glasshouse,” said Ramu Manivannan, head, department of politics and public administration, University of Madras. “Sasikala knows the background of all the top AIADMK members in and out, even if they try to push her away. ”
Chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswam, (EPS) , once considered her protege, asserted that Sasikala’s release would not alter the stand of AIADMK to keep her and her kin at bay. “According to me, it (her release) will not change anything,” he told reporters on Wednesday.
Following Jayalalithaa’s death in December 2016, Sasikala held the reins of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam party briefly. After her conviction, EPS became chief minister and he joined hands with OPS to oust Sasikala.
Interestingly, it was EPS who expelled Sasikala from the party following her conviction.
Sasikala’s nephew and former MP TTV Dhinakaran, who was also expelled with her, later contested from Jayalalithaa’s RK Nagar assembly seat as an independent candidate and won by over 40,000 votes.
In 2018, he formed the Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK) and 18 rebel AIADMK MLAs, who supported Sasikala, joined the party. Their resignation resulted in a long-drawn legal battle, and by-elections to these seats and four additional seats were held in 2019. The AMMK did not win any of the seats.
In October this year, the Income Tax department attached Sasikla’s properties worth ₹1,500 crore.
Meanwhile, the AIADMK has amended its by-laws to prevent her from holding any position in the party. According to the new rules, only a person who has been an active member of the party for five years can hold an organisational post.
(With Agency inputs)