Convicted Sasikala out after the SC verdict, but game isn’t over yet

The verdict ended Sasikala’s campaign to become the CM as it carries a six-year ban on contesting any elections.

Published: 15th February 2017 05:24 AM  |   Last Updated: 15th February 2017 05:24 AM   |  A+A-

AIADMK general secretary VK Sasikala leaves from Golden Bay Resort in Kuvathoor, near Chennai on Tuesday | Sunish p surendran

By Express News Service

CHENNAI: The ongoing political crisis in Tamil Nadu took a dramatic turn after rebel Chief Minister O Panneerselvam and outlier challenger Deepa Jayakumar met at the Jaya Memorial on the sands of Marina on Tuesday night.

They sent out an open message of closing ranks against their mutual rival, AIADMK general secretary VK Sasikala. After paying tribute to the late Chief Minister, Deepa followed Panneerselvam to his official residence, the rebel headquarters, where she was welcomed with the ritualistic aarathi by his family. The surprise turn of events came on a day that began with the Supreme Court convicting Sasikala and two of her close relatives in the disproportionate assets case. 

The verdict ended Sasikala’s campaign to become the Chief Minister as it carries not just a four-year prison sentence, but also a six-year ban on contesting any elections. Swiftly, the party MLAs, staying in a resort outside the city, chose senior Cabinet member ‘Edappadi’ K Palanisamy as their leader.

Accompanied by a battery of leaders and minister, Palanisamy called on Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao and staked claim to form the next government. About an hour later, Rajya Sabha member V Maitreyan and advocate PH Manoj Pandian, representing the OPS faction, also met the Governor. However, there has been no official word from the Raj Bhavan on the next course of action.

Sasikala’s setback, however, did not lead to an exodus towards the rebel camp. Panneerselvam even issued an all-is-forgiven statement, urging MLAs to join him to keep the government going. He also managed to win over two legislators, S Semmalai and OK Chinnaraj, raising hopes of a trickle before a torrent.

But there it stopped, no other senior leader or MLA joined the rebels till this paper went to print. The party promptly expelled all MLAs, including Pannerselvam, but retained the 12 Parliament members, possibly with an eye on the upcoming Presidential elections. 

Sasikala left the resort late in the evening after exhorting her camp to support Palanisamy. This was followed by a televised address, her first public reaction to the verdict. “No force can separate me from the AIADMK. No matter where I am, I will always be thinking about my party,” she said. “Courts can incarcerate me but no one can imprison my mind.”


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