Chennai: A luxury resort near Chennai that offers water-skiing and massages is off-limits for the sixth day as VK Sasikala made it her base while orchestrating big moves for the ruling AIADMK after being convicted for corruption. This evening, large gatherings were banned near the Golden Bay resort as chaos erupted not long after Ms Sasikala was ordered by the Supreme Court to serve jail time. Over 100 lawmakers will complete a week at the resort, which is surrounded by backwaters on three sides and has only one way out.
- Sasikala sets camp at Golden Bay resort near Chennai with over 100 MLAs
- Many MLAs, loyal to Sasikala, insist they're not being held forcefully
- One MLA escaped the resort this morning, in T-shirt and shorts
Many of them, loyal to Ms Sasikala or Chinnamma (younger sister of Amma), insist they are not being held against their will.
"The Golden Bay Resort owner is being threatened and asked to move us out. Some force is conspiring behind the scenes," said Navaneethakrishnan, an AIADMK parliamentarian. A group of lawmakers are threatening to launch a protest fast against what they call the targeting of the resort owner.
Till yesterday, the lawmakers were not allowed to meet anyone but Ms Sasikala and a chosen few. Their mobile phones were allegedly taken away to stop them from contacting Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, who revolted against Ms Sasikala last Tuesday and declared her unfit to become Chief Minister.
Since yesterday, Sasikala has lost two MLAs to Mr Panneerselvam. One of them shared details of a dramatic escape from the heavily guarded resort last evening. "I disguised myself, climbed the wall, jumped and escaped," said SS Saravana. His disguise - a "T-shirt and Bermuda (shorts)".
This morning, S Semmalai also said he had broken free.
Moments after the court verdict effectively sealed Ms Sasikala's political ambitions, a large group of policemen entered the resort.
Ms Sasikala, asked to surrender immediately, remained inside. It emerged later that she had called a quick meeting of the lawmakers in which her loyalist Edappadi Palanisamy was elected party chief and Mr Panneerselvam and his supporters were "expelled".
Mr Panneerselvam appealed to the lawmakers to do the right thing and sent his team to reason with them. But they were stopped about a km from the resort.
Amid extraordinary security measures, journalists were told by fishermen that there were strict orders not to give anyone boat rides.