Tamil Nadu is celebrating Valentine’s Day with the hashtag #TNsaved after a Supreme Court judgement on Tuesday found All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam General Secretary VK Sasikala guilty in a 21-year-old disproportionate assets case.
The court sentenced her, along with nephew TN Sudhakaran and sister-in-law J Elavarasi, to four years’ imprisonment, imposed a fine of Rs 10 crore on them and ordered the confiscation of their properties.
The Supreme Court judgement, in effect, barred Sasikala from holding public office and contesting elections for 10 years. It came at a time when she was engaged a power tussle with interim chief minister O Panneerselvam for the control of the party after the death of former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on December 5.
Although Sasikala had a long and close relationship with Jayalalithaa, she is seen as unpopular among the people of Tamil Nadu. Considered corrupt and controlling, Sasikala’s family, which hails from a town called Mannargudi, has gained the nickname ‘Mannargudi Mafia’ over the decades.
Soon after the verdict, Sasikala became the subject of jokes and memes on social media.
While Sasikala was still lodged along with over 100 AIADMK legislators in Golden Bay Resorts, 80 km south of Chennai, Panneerselvam’s supporters celebrated her conviction. The irony of this fact was not lost on social media users, since the deceased Jayalalithaa was also convicted in the case, of whom Panneerselvam was an ardent follower.
The Supreme Court judgement on Tuesday upheld a previous Special Court ruling in 2014, in which Jayalalithaa, Sasikala, Sudhakaran and Elavarasi were convicted under the Prevention of Corruption Act, for holding assets of up to Rs 53.6 crore, for which they could not be satisfactorily explain the source. That 2014 ruling was overturned in 2015, when the Karnataka High Court acquitted the four of them, stating that the disproportionate assets were only to the tune 8.12% of Jayalalithaa’s income, which fell within the permission 10% bracket.
The case then moved to the Supreme Court, and the much-awaited verdict was finally delivered on Tuesday. As Sasikala was left out of the contest for the chief minister’s position, the MLAs supporting her elected Edappadi K Palanisamy as the legislature leader at an emergency meeting convened at Golden Bay Resorts.
Meanwhile, Jaya TV, the Tamil channel owned by the AIADMK party, decided not to cover the dramatic developments in Tamil Nadu politics on Tuesday. Instead, it chose to air cooking shows that explained how to make vadas.