More than 24 hours after the Supreme Court convicted VK Sasikala in the Disproportionate Assets case, the woman whose rise to the CM's seat had appeared inevitable just a week ago, made her way out of Poes Garden.
Dressed in a red saree, Sasikala looked stoic as the convoy left Veda Nilayam, the late TN CM Jayalalithaa's residence and the city's unofficial centre of power. With her in the car was Ilavarasi, her sister-in-law, who has also been sentenced to four years in jail. Ilavarasi looked visibly upset and emotional, betraying the fact that although the family is trying to hold things together now, the future is uncertain. Following them was TTV Dhinakaran, members of her family, and others.
While there were many party cadres at Poes Garden, the crowd was significantly smaller than it would have been, had it been Jayalalithaa in the car.
â€” Dhanya Rajendran (@dhanyarajendran) February 15, 2017
From Veda Nilayam, the convoy proceeded to the Jayalalithaa Memorial at Marina Beach, where Sasikala paid a floral tribute to her deceased leader and friend as her family watched. She also appeared to be taking a solemn oath, slamming her hand down forcefully on the samadhi and gesturing aggressively. According to the AIADMKâ€™s official Twitter handle, the party General Secretary pledged, â€śI will redeem myself from conspiracy, betrayal, and difficulty.â€ť She also vowed to destroy O Panneerselvam and other enemies.
Earlier in the day, her lawyers had asked for more time from the court for her to set her affairs in order, but the plea was rejected. Sasikala will now be taken to Bengaluru where she will be lodged at Parappana Agrahara prison.
Sasikala has left the party in the hands of her family by appointing Dhinakaran as the party deputy chief â€“ a move that might not go down well with Jayalalithaa loyalists. However, Sasikalaâ€™s conviction has not robbed her of control of the party yet, as her loyalist Edappadi Palanisamy was appointed to take over as Legislature Party leader soon after.
With O Panneerselvam expected to leave for Koovathur where several AIADMK MLAs are stationed at the Golden Bay Resort, the choice of Tamil Naduâ€™s next Chief Minister remains an open question, even if Sasikalaâ€™s political future is sealed for the immediate future.