All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) leader and minister KT Rajendra Balaji on Tuesday called for the early release of late CM J Jayalalithaa's close-aide and AIADMK's former general secretary VK Sasikala, who has been serving a four-year jail term in a disproportionate assets (DA) case.
The Dairy Development Minister, Balaji, said "I wish for the early release of Sasikala. After her release, Sasikala will not prefer to join any other party than AIADMK. If Sasikala wants to be in politics, she will choose only the AIADMK. It is up to the EPS and OPS, the current leaders of AIADMK," the Minister said here in Valliyur, Tirunelveli.
Sasikala, who was convicted in a disproportionate assets case, surrendered in a Bengaluru jail on February 15, 2017 after the Supreme Court turned down her request for more time to surrender. She is serving a four-year jail term.
She was removed from the party by the current leadership of chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami (EPS) and his deputy O Panneerselvam (OPS) in September 2017.
AIADMK's mouthpiece Namadhu Amma has been asserting that the party would not re-induct Sasikala into the party.
When HT asked another state minister, Jayakumar whether AIADMK has any plan to re-induct Sasikala into the party, the leader said Balaji's statement was his personal opinion.
"After the demise of our leader, EPS and OPS-led AIADMK passed a resolution about the removal of Sasikala, TTV Dhinakaran and other of their family members. So, the AIADMK is firm in not re-inducting Sasikala and her family members. The stand continues today, and it will prevail even in the future. Rajendra Balaji's contentions about Sasikala are not replicating AIADMK's views," Jayakumar said.
Professor Ramu Manivannan, Head, Department of Politics and Public Administration, University of Madras, said the development shows the different voices in the AIADMK.
"It is clear that AIADMK is not longing for the comeback of Sasikala. Especially, Panneerselvam, who has a good bond with the BJP, will firmly oppose the re-induction of Sasikala into the party. Rajendra Balaji's statement shows that there are different opinions about it in the AIADMK," Manivannan told HT.
After the death of Jayalalithaa in December 2016, AIADMK's current leader O Panneerselvam opposed the elevation of Sasikala as general secretary. OPS led a rebel faction of AIADMK and demanded the exclusion of Sasikala and her family members from the party.
While Sasikala is spending her days in Parappana Agrahara Women's special prison in Bengaluru, her nephew TTV Dhinakaran contested in Jayalalithaa's RK Nagar assembly seat in 2017 and won.
Dhinakaran also floated his outfit named Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK) in March 2018. He claimed his splinter group is the real AIADMK and it would retrieve the party's symbol and flag from EPS and OPS headed official AIADMK.