- VK Sasikala imprisoned in Bengaluru, drove from Chennai
- She stopped on way at memorial of J Jayalalithaa
- Was imprisoned in same jail with Jayalalithaa in 2014
She is now a prisoner at the same jail where Ms Jayalalithaa and she were kept for about three weeks in 2014 when they were first convicted for corruption. Sources said Ms Sasikala has asked for a cell that comes with a table and a fan, a couple of non-vegetarian meals every week, a space to meditate, and guaranteed round-the-clock medical assistance if sought.
Ms Sasikala, till Tuesday morning, was plotting to be Chief Minister, but the Supreme Court nullified those plans by stating that in the early 90s, during Ms Jayalalithaa's first term in office, the women conspired on a get-rich-quick scheme that included forcing owners of real estate to sell them land at big discounts. Along with Ms Sasikala, her nephew Sudhakaran (adopted by Ms Jayalalithaa only to be disowned a year later) and sister-in-law Ilavarasi, who drove to Bengaluru with her on Wednesday, were also convicted.
Immediately after the verdict, Ms Sasikala devoted her attention to ordering a complete rebuild of the AIADMK's top line-up. In place of her, the party's new presumptive Chief Minister is her loyalist, E Palanisamy. She remains General Secretary; her nephew, TTV Dinakaran is her deputy. In 2011, he was among 12 members of Ms Sasikala's family, apart from her husband and her, who were expelled from the AIADMK by Ms Jayalalithaa, who indicted them for working against her and the party. Three months later, to return to the AIADMK and Ms Jayalalithaa's home, which she shared for more than 20 years, Ms Sasikala apologised and disowned the men in her family.
At Ms Jayalalithaa's funeral, however, her husband, controversial entrepreneur M Natarajan, was conspicuous in the crowd. Party insiders were astounded, but on record, the AIADMK said a grief-stricken Sasikala, who performed her mentor's last rites, needed all the support she could get.
Even before the funeral, Ms Sasikala had chosen O Panneerselvam to take over as Chief Minister. He had stood in for Ms Jayalalithaa while she was alive, including during her jailing in 2014. He was known for his abject devotion which manifested in traits like refusing, as a show of deference, to occupy her office or spot in the legislature when he was filling in.
A rush of disruptors, however, emerged suddenly. The Supreme Court said it was ready to rule on her case; public opinion surged against Ms Sasikala's ascension because of her political inexperience and her family's allegedly dodgy business dealings; Mr Panneerselvam strode away from Ms Jayalalithaa's shore-side memorial to state he wanted to keep the gig.
Ms Sasikala retaliated by packing about 120 state legislators or MLAs to the resort where they remain largely sequestered, despite stating on cue for cameras that their stay is voluntary. Mr Panneerselvam began sourcing support, and now has 11 MLAs on his team.
As Ms Sasikala starts her jail sentence, her party awaits the Governor's decision on whether the man she has chosen as proxy -Mr Palanisamy- will be asked to take oath and then a trust vote. Both he and Mr Panneerselvam have been asked to meet the Governor tonight. Ms Sasikala, in Bengaluru, will start her term as Prisoner number 9234.
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