Chennai: VK Sasikala, convicted by the Supreme Court of corruption and given a four-year jail term, is likely to surrender in Bengaluru on Wednesday, sources in her party, the AIADMK, have said. She came back to her Poes Garden residence late at night from Golden Bay, the five-star resort on the outskirts of Chennai where she was huddled with over a 100 party legislators since morning. At a late meeting of party legislators, her first public appearance since the top court verdict earlier today, Ms Sasikala broke down and said “no force can separate me from AIADMK, I’ll think of the party wherever I am”. The Supreme Court verdict means Ms Sasikala cannot hold public office or contest elections for 10 years, the period of her jail term plus six years after that, ending her bid to be the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister.
Here are the 10 latest developments of this big story:
- Ms Sasikala’s chosen stand-in Edappadi K Palanisamy, elected to head the ruling AIADMK in the Tamil Nadu Assembly, met Governor C Vidyasagar Rao on Tuesday evening to stake claim to form government.
- A team from the rival O Panneerselvam camp also met the Governor today. Their team was stopped by police from meeting about 120 legislators at the Chennai report, where they were hurriedly sequestered by Ms Sasikala, to keep them from being poached.
- Team Panneerselvam said it wanted to bring away 11 legislators who want to join them but are being pressured to stay at the resort. Mr Panneerselvam has 11 of the party’s 134 legislators on his side and if he can get 11 more to join him, the Sasikala camp will struggle to reach the 117 needed for a majority in the state assembly.
- Mr Panneerselvam has urged party legislators to “sink differences, work together and keep the party united to continue Amma’s good rule” and dispatched his team to the resort to convince the MLAs that the party must not split. In a letter, Mr Panneerselvam urged the “MLAs to make the right choice” and said they must “forget temporary problems and unite.”
- The Governor could ask both factions to take a trust vote to prove majority on the floor of the assembly. If neither side manages a majority President’s Rule could be imposed in the state.
- Mr Panneerselvam had taken oath hours after Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Ms Jayalalithaa died on December 5 last year and resigned last week at a party meeting called to elect Ms Sasikala to take over the top post.
- Two days later he rebelled saying he must remain Chief Minister because “Amma” wanted him to. He said he was forced to resign and has also alleged that Ms Sasikala is holding legislators “captive”at the resort”
- Both Ms Sasikala and Mr Panneerselvam had met Tamil Nadu Governor C Vidyasagar Rao last week and presented their claim to take a trust vote ahead of the other. He was reportedly waiting for the Supreme Court verdict in the corruption case.
- Ms Sasikala, Ms Jayalalithaa’s closest companion, was charged with helping her amass illicit wealth worth over 60 crores in the 1990s. The judges overturned a High Court order that had acquitted Ms Jayalalithaa, Ms Sasikala and two others in the case. Ms Sasikala and the others convicted today have also been fined 10 crores each.
- The Supreme Court on Tuesday also made strong comments about the role of Ms Jayalalithaa, who was accused number 1 in the case, upholding the verdict of the trial court which had convicted both her and Ms Sasikala and sentenced them to four years each in jail. The Karnataka High Court had acquitted them and the Karnataka government appealed against the acquittal in the Supreme Court.
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