VK Sasikala, the sacked AIADMK chief released from jail last month, has taken a legal step towards reclaiming her position in Tamil Nadu's ruling party months ahead of polls.
Sasikala, 66, has filed a fresh application in a Chennai court against Chief Minister E Palaniswami (EPS) and his Deputy O Panneerselvam (OPS), in an attempt to stake claim for the AIADMK top post.
She had filed a lawsuit in 2017 against an AIADMK General Council meeting convened by EPS and OPS to remove her from the post of general secretary. Now she has filed a fresh application seeking higher damages and an urgent hearing of her petition. The case will be heard on March 15.
Sasikala, a close aide of former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, stepped in as chief of the party after her death and was just short of taking on the post of Chief Minister when she was sentenced to a four-year jail term for corruption.
Before leaving for jail, she handpicked EPS to take over as Chief Minister but in her absence, he patched up with OPS - who had rebelled against Sasikala's leadership - and they both had her removed from the post and the party.
Her return earlier this month has once again stirred turmoil in the party that has never quite recovered from its leadership vacuum after the death of the charismatic and powerful Jayalalithaa.
The Chief Minister had in January, after a meeting with the BJP leadership, declared that Sasikala would not be taken back into the party. But since her return, he has been noticeably silent on his former mentor and has targeted her nephew TTV Dhinakaran instead. His stance revived speculation that he could make up with Sasikala, known as "Chinnamma (aunt)" by AIADMK cadre who referred to Jayalalithaa as "Amma (mother)".
Sasikala has made her intentions clear by flaunting the AIADMK flag on her car wherever she has gone, even though the party has complained about it.
Reports suggest Sasikala plans to file a petition to claim the AIADMK's two leaves symbol and name which the Election Commission allotted to the EPS-OPS faction in 2017.