SASIKALA … VK Sasikala set to be released next Wednesday; taken to hospital with chest pain


NEWS SASIKALA

CHENNAI: AIADMK leader VK Sasikala is expected to be released from the Agrahara central prison in Bengaluru on January 27, Wednesday, has spent four years in jail in a disproportionate assets case. While she is expected to re-enter politics and campaign for power in the May assembly polls, Chief Minister E Palaniswami has ruled out her re-induction to the party.

Sasikala’s lawyer Raja Sethurapandian received a communication from the Bengaluru prison authorities about her impending release. However reports from Bengaluru said on Wednesday that she was taken to a hospital by jail authorities after she complained of chest pain.

Vivekanandan Krishnaveni Sasikala, 66, had taken over as AIADMK chief soon after the demise of long-time CM and party supremo J Jayalalitha in 2016. However, internal issues cropped up in the party over CM post, which ended up in Palaniswami being given the post and another claimant O Panneerselvam given the deputy CM post. A while later, Sasikala was put behind the bars following the Supreme Court reaffirming that she was guilty. 

While Jayalalitha was co-accused, her death meant only Sasikala was penalised. Sasikala was recently made to pay a fine of Rs 10crore as well.

Tamil Nadu politics is in for a major churning. While assembly polls are approaching, Palaniswami is not in the reckoning for another term if opinion polls are to be believed. Surveys said DMK will grab power under the leadership of MK Stalin, son of K Karunanidhi, former CM and DMK patriarch who died in 2018. With Jaya and Karunanidhi gone, new players are trying to grab the top political space.

A major expectation was about matinee idol Rajinikanth, who however backed out of his plan to enter politics, a week ago, also citing his ill-health. Another aspiring leader is Kamala Hassan, popular star, who has set up a political party and is seeking people’s support. 

The BJP and the Congress are not major forces in the state. The Congress has an alliance with the DMK, and hopes to share power after the May polls. Rajinikanth has said his fans could join any party. The DMK-Congress-CPIM alliance had swept the last Lok Sabha polls in the state, leaving only one seat to the AIADMK, which was won by Panneerselvam’s son. 

If Sasikala returns to politics, which is quite likely, she might be capable of grabbing major chunk of the present AIADMK led by CM Palaniswami and OPS. She is seen as a mature leader, who always remained behind Jayalaithaa and yet ran party affairs with a firm hand, courtesy the backing she got from Jaya as CM. She belongs to a powerful backward community, Thevars, just as OPS is.

Palaniswami is likely to relent later, as the AIADMK ally the BJP is putting pressure on the Dravidian party to take Sasikala along with. Palaniswami and OPS have no major mass support even though they shared power for the past over four years. Sasikala, it is reckoned in political circles, will not settle for anything other than the CM post. 

Sasikala’s husband, M Natarajan, a former PRO with the state government, died some time ago. IHN-NN

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