BENGALURU: The setting was similar, the moods contrasting. Three years ago, when the then Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa was driven into the Parappana Agrahara jail in Bengaluru after being convicted by a trial court in the disproportionate-assets case, slogan shouting AIDMK cadres and loyalists had thronged in thousands in a show of support.
On Wednesday, it was largely journalists and curious locals who milled around the central prison entrance as V K Sasikala made her way into the premises, having travelled by road from Chennai to surrender. Sasikala, a co-accused in the disproportionate assets case, was handed a four year sentence by the Supreme Court on Tuesday.
Female supporters of the party, who were a visible presence during Jayalalithaa’s time were conspicuous by their absence. This is a striking sign of the general disgruntlement among the rank and file of the party, even if muted, over Sasikala’s attempt at appropriating Jaya’s legacy.
However, Karnataka AIADMK unit secretary V Pugazhenthi believes that the verdict was a result of the case foisted by DMK. “We are confident that she will come out of this and continue to lead the party,” he said.
Asked about the reason for only a few Sasikala supporters being present outside the prison, former MLA from Walajabad P Ganesan sais, “All our MLAs and supporters are in Chennai for the formation of next government led by Edappadi K Palaniswami. Our party is united and all are extending their support to Chinnamma. She will continue to take decisions.”
A few supporters from Sasikala’s native Mannargudi were also present ioutsideof the jail.
R Gokul, an AIADMK cadre from Mannargudi, said, “We were accompanying Chinnamma (Sasikala) from Chennai. She is innocent and has nothing to do with this case. She will continue to lead the party.”
Some AIADMK partymen said they are worried about the Sasikala’s safety in Jail. “Our vehicles were attacked a few meters outside the jail despite heavy police presence. Then, how can they ensure the safety our leader Chinnamma?” asked M Maheswaran, an AIADMK leader based in Kancheepuram.
“I am not supporting Sasikala but I thought of seeing her since she is coming here” said Pankajam K, a local vendor.
At 5.15 pm, Sasikala and her co-accused Ilavarasi reached the jail after a day-long wait by her supporters. An hour later, another accused Sudhakaran also reached the prison. A few AIADMK leaders including deputy Lok Sabha Speaker Thambidurai, Sasikala’s husband M Natarajan, Ilavarasi’s son Vivek, Dr S Venkatesh, son of Sasikala’s brother Sundaravadanam were among those present at the jail premises.