Supreme Court tells Sasikala to surrender immediately, a second time
On Wednesday, Sasikala inducted two of her nephews who had been expelled from the AIADMK by Jayalalithaa back into the party. One of them has been made general secretary, thereby ensuring Sasikala has control of the party even from inside jail. Photograph: (AFP)
The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to give AIADMK chief VK Sasikala any more time to surrender, after her lawyer said she needed it because she was unwell.
"You know the meaning of the word immediately?" a judge snapped at her lawyer.
Sasikala, her sister-in-law, and her nephew were found guilty yesterday in a disproportionate assets case dating back to 1996. (Former Tamil Nadu chief minister the late J Jayalalithaa was also an accused in the case.) The quartet were accused of having amassed a fortune worth more than Rs 60 crore.
The court had on Tuesday said Sasikala was to surrender immediately.
She did not.
Instead, after her conviction, at a meeting with the AIADMK MLAs she was holed up with at the Golden Bay resort in Chennai, she first expelled caretaker chief minister O Panneerselvam from the party and then had her loyalist Edappadi K Palanisamy elected leader of the AIADMK legislature party.
Sasikala and Panneerselvam had been fighting to become chief minister of Tamil Nadu. Now, with her conviction, Sasikala cannot hold public office for six years.
Which leaves the question of who will become chief minister wide open.
Panneerselvam, who had taken over as chief minister after the death of Jayalalithaa, had resigned from the post some time ago. He then did a sudden U-turn, saying he had been "forced" to resign.
On Tuesday, Panneerselvam met with the Tamil Nadu governor.
He was preceded by Palanisamy.
The governor will now have to take a call on whom he will invite to form the government.
So far, Pannerselvam has the public support of only 11 MLAs but his camp says he has the tacit support of at least 11 more. If he can get the support of these additional 11 MLAs, Palanisamy will have trouble mustering the majority he needs to form the government.
Stopover at Jaya's memorial
There was even more drama on Wednesday.
After the Supreme Court said for a second time that Sasikala was to surrender immediately, she finally left Jayalalithaa's erstwhile Poes Garden residence. But instead of making her way directly to the authorities to surrender herself, she first made a stopover at Jayalalithaa's memorial on Marina beach where, news reports said, she made "a might vow". (It is not yet completely clear what that vow might be.)
Sasikala has to surrender in Bengaluru, to which she is making her way by road.
And finally, on Wednesday morning, she also inducted her nephews TTV Dinakaran and S Venkatesh into the party. Both of them had been expelled from the party by Jayalalithaa.
Dinakaran, who was expelled in 2011, has been made deputy general secretary of the AIADMK, thereby ensuring Sasikala will have control of the party from jail.