‘Junior Amma’ leaves Victoria Hospital in car sporting AIADMK flag, greeted by scores of supporters
Nephew Dhinakaran says she will ‘win back’ AIADMK
Expelled AIADMK leader VK Sasikala was discharged from Victoria Hospital here on Sunday after recovering from Covid-19, days after she was set free by prison officials on completion of her jail term in a corruption case, officials said.
Speaking to reporters, her nephew TTV Dhinakaran said as that per the doctors’ advice, she would recuperate in Bengaluru for a week before returning to Chennai.
Sending a strong signal, Sasikala, a close aide of the late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, left the hospital in a car that sported the AIADMK flag. In response, the ruling party questioned the propriety of her action when she has been ousted from the party.
The AIADMK has time and again made it clear that 66- year old Sasikala will not be taken back and her release will not have any impact on the party, which is keen to retain power in the assembly elections, expected in April-May. It has already declared incumbent CM K Palaniswami as the chief ministerial candidate for the polls.
Sasikala was expelled from the party in September 2017, along with her nephew Dhinakaran and others, by the general council of the combined AIADMK under the leadership of Palaniswami and his deputy O Panneerselvam after the two merged their factions.
‘Kissa flag ka’
On Sunday, the AIADMK in its twitter handle said the use of its flag by Sasikala was against the law and quoted senior party leader D Jayakumar as saying, “How could Sasikala, who is not even a party member, use the party flag? This is against the law.”
Defending Sasikala, Dhinakaran, who is general secretary of the Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam floated by him in March 2018, claimed that “she (his aunt) is the general secretary of the AIADMK.” Cases relating to her so-called ”expulsion” and connected matters were pending before the court in Tamil Nadu, he told reporters, adding, “I have already told you that the legal fight will continue (to ‘retrieve’ the AIADMK).” The very purpose of floating the AMMK was to ‘retrieve’ the AIADMK in a democratic way and ‘Thiyaga Thalaivi Chinnamma'(leader of sacrifices, junior ‘Amma’) would continue legal efforts to win back the party, he said.
Battle lines drawn
Political analyst Sumanth Raman tweeted, “#Sasikala coming out of hospital in a car with an AIADMK flag on it seems to be a clear signal of her intentions. Game on.”
Soon after she was discharged, Sasikala reached a resort near the scenic Nandi Hill at Devanahalli in North Bengaluru. Sasikala was admitted to Victoria Hospital after she tested positive for Covid-19 recently while in judicial custody.
Jailed in assets case
Prison authorities in Bengaluru had formally released her on January 27 after she completed the four-year jail term in a Rs 66-crore disproportionate assets case. On the advice of the doctors, she remained in the hospital and was discharged on Sunday after her latest test reports came negative for Covid-19, hospital officials said.
A huge crowd of supporters greeted Sasikala as she came out of the hospital. More than 300 police personnel were deployed in the area to ensure law and order, the police said.
Sambasivan, one of her supporters from Hosur in the border district of Krishnagiri in Tamil Nadu, told PTI that this was like a festival for him.
Sasikala’s release comes ahead of the assembly elections in Tamil Nadu and the course of action taken by her will be keenly watched. The Supreme Court sentenced her to four years’ simple imprisonment on February 14, 2017 at a time when she was set to take over as Chief Minister subsequent to her election as AIADMK legislature party leader.
After the sentence, that also barred her from contesting elections for six years after completion of the term, she chose Palaniswami to be the chief minister. Before coming here to serve the sentence, Sasikala had made a dramatic vow at the ‘samadhi’ of Jayalalithaa, though she did not openly declare what it was all about.
With PTI Inputs