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Saturday, February 27, 2021

AIADMK flag, crowds around her, politics on mind, Sasikala is back

AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa's closest aide, Sasikala, imprisoned in February 2017, is set to challenge the authority of Chief Minister E Palaniswami and Deputy CM O Paneerselvam, as "her true successor".

Written by Arun Janardhanan | Chennai |
Updated: February 9, 2021 7:29:44 am
V K Sasikala, AIADMK, disproportionate assets case, Chennai news, Indian express newsSasikala on her way to Tamil Nadu from Bengaluru. (Express photo)

FORMER AIADMK general secretary V K Sasikala on Monday returned to Tamil Nadu, having served a four-year jail term in a disproportionate assets case, with crowds giving her a rousing reception all along the way from Bengaluru to Chennai. As a nervous AIADMK government watched people greeting her with the official party flag, Sasikala promised she would be returning to “active politics”.

AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa’s closest aide, Sasikala, imprisoned in February 2017, is set to challenge the authority of Chief Minister E Palaniswami and Deputy CM O Paneerselvam, as “her true successor”. A senior AIADMK leader admitted to The Indian Express that even if some of the numbers were arranged, the crowds who greeted Sasikala on Monday were larger than what they had expected.

Her convoy consisting dozens of vehicles left Bengaluru in the morning but hadn’t reached Chennai till late in the night, as huge gatherings at almost all major towns made her 340-km trip longer. She stopped to give brief speeches at several places, saying the AIADMK was “in jitters” over her, and that she would never yield to “suppression”.

At other times, Sasikala said “the enemy” should not come to power and hence “everyone should work together like the children of the same mother, under the AIADMK banner”. Asked by reporters if she would return to active politics, with the Assembly elections near, she said, “Sure, for party workers.”

Citing her illness delaying her return to Tamil Nadu, Sasikala said, “I have come out of corona due to the divine intervention of my akka (elder sister) Puratchi Thalaivi (revolutionary leader) Idaya Deivam (God) Amma”.

She also cited the famous MGR song Anbukku naan adimai (Surrendering before love) to state she was overwhelmed by the love and affection she was getting.

Following Jayalalithaa’s death in December 2017, EPS and OPS had come together to oust Sasikala both as AIADMK chief and from the party membership. She had floated the AMMK, led by her nephew T T V Dhinakaran, and the crowds on Monday carried both the AIADMK and AMMK flags. The police tried ineffectually to stop her supporters from flaunting the AIADMK flag. Dhinakaran, who accompanied her, said she would visit MGR’s residence in Chennai.

Earlier, AIADMK ministers had petitioned police chief J K Tripathy against Sasikala using the party flag, and on Monday, senior AIADMK minister D Jayakumar said Sasikala and Dhinakaran had no rights to use the party flag. He also called the two the “B team” of the opposition DMK. The security outside the AIADMK headquarters has been beefed up.

On Monday, the AIADMK also sacked several party functionaries for supporting Sasikala, including S R Sambangi from Krishnagiri whose vehicle was used to carry a party flag to her.

Sasikala said the AIADMK government had shown it was scared by closing access to the newly opened Jayalalithaa memorial and MGR memorial structures, citing maintenance reasons.

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