Expelled All India Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader VK Sasikala on Wednesday announced that she was quitting politics ahead of the Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu, reported The Hindu. Sasikala, a close aide of former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, was released from prison on January 27 after a four-year-long sentence in a corruption case.
The 234-seat state Assembly will go to polls in a single phase on April 6 and the results will be declared on May 2.
“I have never been after power or position even when Jaya [late former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa] was alive,” she said in a statement, reported NDTV. “Won’t do that after she is dead. [I am] quitting politics but I pray that her party wins, and her legacy goes on.”
Sasikala also urged AIADMK members to work towards the common goal of defeating the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam. “Amma’s cadres should work to defeat the DMK and ensure that Amma’s golden governance comes,” she said in the letter, according to India Today.
Her nephew and former AIADMK leader TTV Dhinakaran said that he tried his best to convince Sasikala against the decision, adding that the Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam will continue to contest the polls under his leadership, reported The New Indian Express.
Earlier in the day, the AIADMK said there was “no chance” of re-inducting Sasikala and Dhinakaran into the party, and asserted that its ally in the state, the Bharatiya Janata Party, would not interfere in the matter, reported Deccan Herald. “Chief Minister [Edappadi K Palaniswami] has made it clear that there is no chance of Sasikala and Dhinakaran joining AIADMK,” Tamil Nadu Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar said. “100% there is no chance and this is the stand of the party.”
Sasikala had filed a lawsuit in the Madras High Court in 2017 against a general council meeting of the AIADMK, convened by Palaniswami and O Panneerselvam, to remove her as the party general secretary. Following the death of Jayalalithaa, the AIADMK had split into two factions, each led by Palaniswami and Panneerselvam, who had sought Sasikala’s removal as the party chief. Following months of political drama, the two factions merged in August 2017, and Sasikala was sacked from the party.
After being released from prison, Sasikala approached a court in Chennai seeking early hearing of a civil suit filed to reclaim her general secretary post in the party.
Sasikala’s suit contends to declare that Palaniswami, Panneerselvam, Forest Minister Dindigul C Sreenivasan, former Tamil Nadu minister S Semmalai and AIADMK presidium chairperson E Madusudhanan are not members of the AIADMK. The plea also submits that all actions taken by them in their capacity as officer-bearers were illegal and against the party bylaws.
The expelled AIADMK leader was moved to a hospital for coronavirus treatment and was discharged on January 31. After her release, she was seen travelling in a car with AIADMK flags, although she was removed as a party member. She also announced her return to politics. However, Palaniswami repeatedly ruled out any possibility of her rejoining the party.