Jayalalithaa aide VK Sasikala quits politics before Tamil Nadu elections
VK Sasikala, the expelled chief of the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) in Tamil Nadu, announced her retirement from public life and politics on Wednesday. Sasikala, who was released from jail in January, was widely expected to contest the upcoming Tamil Nadu Assembly elections. Elections are due to be held in Tamil Nadu on April 6, 2021. Here are more details.
Sasikala said in a statement, "I have never been after power or position even when Jaya (J Jayalalithaa) was alive. 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—who spent four years in a Bengaluru jail on corruption charges—was a close aide of former TN Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa.
Sasikala said in the statement, "I urge supporters of AIADMK to all work together and defeat the DMK (Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, the primary opposition)." She added, "I urge the party cadre to work to keep her legacy going."
After Jayalalithaa's demise in December 2016, Sasikala had stepped in as AIADMK chief. However, she was sentenced to a four-year jail term for corruption. Before being jailed, she had picked Edappadi Karuppa Palaniswami to take over as CM. However, Palaniswami colluded with Ottakarathevar Panneerselvam, removing her from the post and the party. Panneerselvam is the current Deputy CM of Tamil Nadu.
Sasikala was released from jail on January 27 this year. A month after her release, she filed an application in a Chennai court against Palaniswami and Panneerselvam to stake a claim for the AIADMK top post. Her return had stirred the AIADMK, which never quite recovered from the power vacuum after the demise of Jayalalithaa, who was lovingly known as 'Amma' (mother).
Tamil Nadu Assembly elections will be held in a single phase on April 6 across 88,936 polling stations. The term of 234-seat state Legislative Assembly ends on May 24, 2021. The counting of votes will be held on May 2. The election for the vacant Kanyakumari Parliamentary seat will be conducted simultaneously on April 6, the Election Commission of India has announced.