In a setback for VK Sasikala, the aide of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, a court in Chennai dismissed her appeal challenging her removal as General Secretary of the AIADMK in 2017.
Sasikala had moved the court in February last year, days after she was released after serving a four-year prison term in connection with a disproportionate assets case.
The court dismissed her plea following an interlocutory application from AIADMK Coordinator O Panneerselvam (OPS) and joint coordinator E Palaniswami (EPS), the party’s Legal Wing Joint Secretary AM Babu Murugavel said. The court held that Sasikala had no locus standi to contest the decision.
Sasikala had moved the city civil court contending that the AIADMK general council held in 2017, which expelled her as general secretary, was not valid.
The general council was held in the wake of the merger of the then separate factions headed by OPS and EPS.
Sasikala had challenged her removal from the post of General Secretary on the grounds that only the party General Secretary can convene the General Council where the decision to remove her was taken.
She had earlier moved the Madras High Court, but the case was transferred to the civil court, as the latter’s jurisdiction had been increased. The Chennai Civil Court has now dismissed her plea.
Sasikala, who was the most powerful person during Jayalalithaa’s regime, is trying to make a reentry into the AIADMK after she became a persona non-grata. Arrested and jailed in a disproportionate asset case in 2017, she has been trying to make a political comeback after her release, but the party leadership has not been entertaining it.
After her release in the DA case, a massive homecoming roadshow — from Bengaluru to Chennai — was held for her and she travelled in cars bearing the AIADMK flag, which had irked other party members, as she had been removed as the General Secretary.
Following Jayalalithaa’s death, the AIADMK had briefly split into two factions — one led by EPS and the other by OPS, whom Jayalalithaa had named as the successor. When Sasikala was convicted in the DA case, she had told the AIADMK that EPS will be the Chief Minister and succeed Jayalalithaa. Later, EPS later patched up with OPS, merging the two factions — but there were conditions. OPS had demanded that Sasikala and her nephew TTV Dhinakaran must be kept away from the party.
In September 2017, the AIADMK removed Sasikala as party General Secretary and TTV Dhinakaran as Deputy General Secretary. Recently, EPS had said that there was no scope for Sasikala to be taken back into the party.
Despite her removal, Sasikala has been positioning herself as the General Secretary of the AIADMK. To counter this, on 1 December last year, AIADMK amended its bye-laws to strengthen norms and retain the present leadership structure of the top two positions — which are held by OPS and EPS. The amendments to bye-laws at the party’s Executive Committee meeting held in Chennai effectively closed the door on Sasikala.
(Published in arrangement with The News Minute.)