V.K. Sasikala, close friend of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, was expelled from the primary membership of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam on Monday, along with her husband M. Natarajan, and 12 of their close relatives.
Ms. Jayalalithaa, who is the general secretary of the AIADMK, announced the expulsions, first on Jaya TV, and later through a statement. She asked party activists not to have any contact with Ms. Sasikala and the other expelled members.
Earlier, Ms. Sasikala a member of the party's executive council, was sent out of the Chief Minister's Poes Garden residence.
Though Ms. Jayalalithaa gave no reason for their expulsion, party sources said interference of the family members in the administration and political overreach were the reasons for their downfall. AIADMK cadres greeted the announcement with the bursting of crackers.
The resignation of A. Panneerselvam, officer on special duty, special programme implementation department and transfer of Pon. Manickavel, D.I.G, Intelligence, two officials close to Ms. Sasikala and her family, were seen as indicative of a rift between Ms. Jayalalithaa and Ms. Sasikala.
Mr. Natarajan, who was earlier a Public Relations Officer with the State Information Department, had fallen out of Ms. Jayalalithaa's favour several years ago. Mr. V.N. Sudhagaran, who was declared a foster son by Ms. Jayalalithaa in 1995, was later disowned by her. Neither was known to be active in the party now, but Ms. Jayalalithaa included their name in the expulsion list to send across the message that she had completely cut all links with the Sasikala family hailing from Mannargudi in Tiruvarur district.
Of those who have been expelled, T.T.V. Dinakaran, V. Bhaskaran and Mr. Sudhagaran are the sons of Ms. Sasikala's sister Vanithamani. Mr. Dinakaran had also served as an MP of both the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha. Mr. Bhaskaran had served as the managing director of JJ TV, which folded up before the launch of Jaya TV, the official channel of the AIADMK. He was once arrested on charges of Foreign Exchange Regulation Act (FERA) violations.
Mr. Sudhagaran shot to fame when Ms Jayalalithaa organised his mega wedding. But subsequently, when the AIADMK was in power in 2001, he was arrested on charges of attempt to murder under Section 307 of the Indian Penal Code, and provisions of the Arms Act, and the Narcotics Act, for allegedly possessing a revolver and heroin.
S. Venkatesh, a doctor, is the son of Ms. Sasikala's brother Sundaravadhanan. He was the secretary of Ilaignar and Ilampengal Pasarai (Youth and young women brigades) and was seen as a prominent leader in the party until recently. It was he who held parleys with the leaders of the alliance parties for the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, but was removed from his party post in September 2010.
Mr. Divakar is another brother of Ms. Sasikala. T.V. Mahadevan, a former secretary of Jayalalithaa Peravai, is the son of another of Ms. Sasikala's brothers Vinodhagan.
Mr. Natarajan's brother M. Ramachandran, Eravanan, Mohan (Adyar), Kulothungan, Rajarajan and Thangamani are the others who have been expelled.
This is not the first time Jayalalithaa is disowning Sasikala. In 1996, after she lost the general elections, Ms. Jayalalithaa announced that she was disassociating herself from Ms. Sasikala.
However, after Ms. Sasikala was released from prison on bail, she returned to Ms. Jayalalithaa's Poes Garden residence.
Both Ms. Jayalalithaa and Ms. Sasikala are facing a disproportionate wealth case in a special court in Bangalore.