‘Will Be in Active Politics’: Sasikala on Returning to TN

VK Sasikala returned to Chennai on Monday to a massive welcome from AMMK supporters.

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India
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Posters of Sasikala and TTV Dhinakaran spotted outside her niece’s residence in T Nagar, Chennai.
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There is bad news for AIADMK, as sacked AIADMK chief VK Sasikala said on Monday, 8 February, that she will partake in active politics.

She returned to Chennai for the first time today after she was released on 27 January from Parappana Agrahara prison, after serving a four-year term for corruption.

Sixty-six-year-old Sasikala was staying at the Prestige Golfshire Club in Bengaluru after her discharge from the hospital, where she was being treated for coronavirus.

In a strong image of defiance she left Bengaluru on Monday, 8 February, morning in a car flaunting the AIADMK flag. Draped in a green sari, she greeted supporters with folded hands.

Police deployed outside Sasikala’s niece’s residence in T Nagar, Chennai.
Police deployed outside Sasikala’s niece’s residence in T Nagar, Chennai.
(Photo Courtesy: The Quint)

AMMK Warned against Using AIADMK Flag

Senior AIADMK leaders complained to the police about the misuse of the party flag when she is no longer part of the party. Her team was tacitly warned by the Tamil Nadu police.

This move is being seen as Sasikala planning to be a disruptor, ahead of the approaching state polls.

“The government’s objection to my use of the flag reveals the fear of the current AIADMK dispensation.”
V K Sasikala
Posters of Sasikala with Jayalalithaa has been spotted in medians and walls in Chennai.
Posters of Sasikala with Jayalalithaa has been spotted in medians and walls in Chennai.
(Photo Courtesy: The Quint)

A notice was issued by the police to the AMMK Krishnagiri unit, stating that Sasikala can travel in a convoy with only five additional cars. The police also instructed the party to avoid large gatherings, strictly adhere to COVID-19 regulations, and said that no permission has been granted for bursting crackers and playing music.

Meanwhile, over 1,000 vehicles and massive crowds gathered at Krishnagiri on the Tamil Nadu-Karnataka border. Local artistes were seen playing music and drums, holding flags and garlands, and performing gymnastics in order to welcome her.

Posters of Sasikala with Jayalalithaa have been put up in road-medians and walls in Chennai. Drones carrying her image were seen hovering in the area.

Massive crowds have gathered at Krishnagiri on the Tamil Nadu-Karnataka border.
Massive crowds have gathered at Krishnagiri on the Tamil Nadu-Karnataka border.
(Photo Courtesy: The Quint)

Meanwhile, two cars that were carrying fireworks, meant to be burst to welcome Sasikala’s entry into Tamil Nadu, went up in flames on Monday, 8 February, afternoon. Nobody was injured in the incident and the fire was put out later.

Sasikala’s Return to TN Ahead of Elections

Tight security was deployed at AIADMK headquarters ahead of her release.

Sasikala's return is crucial for the pace of elections in Tamil Nadu. Though she cannot contest for six years because of her conviction, her popularity with the Thevar community, a key vote bank for the AIADMK, is a cause for worry for the ruling party.

On 29 December 2016, at the first party meeting since Jayalalithaa's death, the AIADMK general council amended the by-laws and unanimously appointed Sasikala as the party's general secretary.

She was soon slated to be chief minister but then the Supreme Court verdict convicted her. Sasikala was then removed as AIADMK chief and expelled by Edappadi Palaniswami, as part of a truce after he joined hands with rebel-turned-Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam. Her nephew TTV Dinakaran then founded the party, Amma Makkal Munnettra Kazagam (AMMK) in August 2017.

Jayalalithaa Memorial Temporarily Closed

Ahead of her release, AIADMK temporarily closed the Jayalalithaa memorial that was opened in Chennai on 27 January, which happened to coincide with Sasikala's formal release from prison. Dhinakaran pointed out that these 'chemical changes' will only increase as she arrives in the state, and that it is bound to impact the upcoming Assembly polls in Tamil Nadu.

“The people will understand why the Jaya memorial was shut down by the government,” Sasikala said.

The state government has maintained that the closure is merely a coincidence, but Sasikala's supporters have alleged that it is being deliberately planned to prevent her from visiting the memorial.

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