VK Sasikala has been found guilty of corruption by the Supreme Court and will have to surrender to the police in Chennai so that she can be jailed for four years. This ends her bid to be Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu – she is now barred from contesting an election for the next ten years.
At 10.30 am, two judges of the Supreme Court delivered their ruling separately, but agreed that Ms Sasikala had, in the early 90s, accumulated an illicit fortune. The case was originally pivoted on J Jayalalithaa, the four-term Chief Minister who Ms Sasikala lived with, but because she died in December, the judgement does not detail her role.
However, the finding rips a huge role through the legacy of Ms Jayalalithaa, beloved “Amma” to lakhs of supporters who accorded her deity-like status and treated her with religious fervor. The case was premised on the fact that during her first term, Ms Jayalalithaa misused her office to accrue 60 cores of assets in a shared fortune with Ms Sasikala and her male relatives, who were later disowned by Amma.
As the verdict was delivered, Ms Sasikaka was at a resort on the outskirts of Chennai, where about 120 legislators from her party, the ruling AIADMK, have been stationed for a week to prevent them from switching allegiance to her rival, O Panneerselvam, who took over as Chief Minister after the death of Ms Jayalalithaa, who was his mentor. OPS, as he is known, had refused party orders to facilitate the promotion of Ms Sasikala to the state’s top job. Instead, like her, he petitioned Governor C Vidyasagar Rao for the right to take a trust vote in the legislature to prove he is the rightful head of government.
The Madras High Court was informed yesterday by the police that the outpost created by Ms Sasikala at Golden Resort is not tantamount to illegal confinement, as alleged by a clutch of petitions, and that the legislators bunkered there say their stay is voluntary. To keep her flock together, Ms Sasiakala drove last night to the resort, visited villages nearby and presented chocolates to children, then addressed the legislators in a speech replete with references to “Amma” (Jayalalithaa) and their close relationship to emphasize the integrity and authenticity of her claim as Ms Jayalalithaa’s successor.
Despite the motivational speech, one legislator decamped and has joined Mr Panneerselvam, who now has nine state law-makers and 12parliamentarians backing him. Ms Sasikala’s faction has about 125 MLAs- nine more than it needs to win a trust vote.
Ms Sasikala has never contested any election -not even one within her party -and her clamour for Chief Minister had driven public outrage against her proposed promotion, with social media campaigns and celebrities deriding her for trying to use sheer force -a reference again to the sequestering of MLAs -to fulfil her political ambition.