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Controversies surrounding Sasikala after Jayalalithaa's death

AIADMK interim general secretary V.K. Sasikala at the Jayalalithaa memorial, before leaving for Bengaluru. File photo

AIADMK interim general secretary V.K. Sasikala at the Jayalalithaa memorial, before leaving for Bengaluru. File photo   | Photo Credit: K. V. Srinivasan

From lying low for many years under the shadow of Jayalalithaa to hogging the limelight at the former Chief Minister's funeral in a new avatar as 'Chinnamma', controversies and bribery allegations from Koovathur to Parappana Agrahara, continue to haunt V.K. Sasikala. A look at some of the events that unfolded within the AIADMK family after December 6, 2016, the day 'Amma' was laid to rest at the Marina.

Controversies surrounding Sasikala after Jayalalithaa's death

Exclusive: Did Sasikala go out of Bengaluru prison?

Sasikala entering the prison from the main gate in the presence of male guards.

Sasikala entering the prison from the main gate in the presence of male guards.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

CCTV footage shows her entering the jail in civilian clothes; former DIG (Prisons) Roopa hands over evidence to Anti-Corruption Bureau of the Karnataka police

Video footage showing AIADMK interim general secretary V.K. Sasikala and her relative Ilavarasi, convicted by the Supreme Court in the disproportionate assets case, walking into the main entry area of the Parappana Agrahara Central Prison in Bengaluru in civilian clothes, has been given to the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) of the Karnataka police.

Former DIG of Prisons D. Roopa, who blew the lid off the special treatment meted out to prisoners, including Sasikala, on Saturday submitted the footage taken from the CCTV recording of the central prison complex, as part of her statement to the ACB.

The fresh evidence raises the suspicion whether the two convicts went out of the prison in connivance with top prison officials.

After being summoned by the ACB, the whistleblower IPS officer, who had given details of her reports to then DGP of Prisons H.N. Sathyanarayana Rao, submitted 74 enclosures as evidence to substantiate her charge.

According to police sources, Ms. Roopa received summons from the ACB on July 31, 2017, the day Mr. Sathyanarayana Rao retired. When she appeared before the investigating officers a couple of days later, they gave her a questionnaire. On Saturday, she gave her version in writing, along with photographs and video footage.

Ms. Roopa was shifted out to the Traffic and Safety wing after she exposed the scam.

 

Evidence given

When The Hindu, which has accessed the CCTV footage, contacted Ms. Roopa, she confirmed that she gave the evidence to the ACB on Saturday. The enclosures included a video footage — taken from the prison CCTV — showing Sasikala and Ilavarasi, each carrying a bag, entering the prison from the main gate in the presence of male guards. The Superintendent of the Women’s Prison is seen escorting them into the campus.

“Male guards are not allowed inside the women’s prison complex. Their deployment is outside the women’s prison premises at the main gate… it has to be investigated where she [Sasikala] is coming from and who permitted it,” Ms. Roopa said.

Parrying questions on whether the enquiry committee, led by retired IAS officer Vinay Kumar, was aware of the footage, Ms. Roopa said all the footage was in the prison database. It was clear that the convicts were given special treatment apparently for pecuniary gains. This was abuse of official position and a punishable offence under Section 13(1) (c) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, she said.

“Inside or outside the women barrack there is no male guard. So this appears like the main gate of the prison on the road from where anybody enters…I have written this in the report and attached this video, requesting the ACB to check to which camera the footage belongs to and enquire whether they [the convicts] are coming from outside,” Ms. Roopa said.

Sasikala and Ilavarasi entering the prison from the main gate in the presence of male guards.

Sasikala and Ilavarasi entering the prison from the main gate in the presence of male guards.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Access to visitors

In her 12-page report, Ms. Roopa has pointed to the special facilities extended to Sasikala while meeting visitors in an exclusive private room. Other prisoners meet visitors in a gallery where a mesh separates inmates and others,

“There is a CCTV camera covering the visitors' gallery…I don’t think you can find the convict meeting any of her visitors there. I have suggested that the visitors who met Sasikala should also be examined,” she told The Hindu.

The sources said Ms. Roopa also gave evidence to the Vinay Kumar committee that might probe more into the irregularities than the corruption angle. The committee submitted its interim report to the Karnataka Chief Minister recently and sought more time to submit the final report.

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Controversies surrounding Sasikala after Jayalalithaa's death

DIG Roopa transferred in aftermath of prison irregularities report

D. Roopa

D. Roopa  

In the aftermath of a report submitted to Karnataka DGP by DIG (Prisons) D. Roopa alleging irregularities in the Parappana Agrahara Central Prison in Bengaluru, the State government on Monday transferred her out of the Prisons Department to the post of DIG, Commissioner for Traffic and Road Safety, Bengaluru.

This comes on a day senior retired bureaucrat Vinay Kumar is expected to begin a probe into the alleged irregularities in the prison, including special facilities being extended to AIADMK general secretary V.K. Sasikala and kingpin of the stamp paper racket Abdul Karim Telgi.

The government issued notices to Ms. Roopa for violating the service rules and going public over allegations against other senior officials. Incidentally, she took charge as DIG (Prisons) only on June 21.

 

Sources said that Director General (Prisons) H.N. Satyanarayana Rao, against whom Ms. Roopa has cast aspersions in her report, also submitted a report to the government alleging that the source of ill will between prison officials and Ms. Roopa stemmed from her dissatisfaction over division of work between senior officers in the department. The government in its order earlier in the day said Mr. Rao, against whom bribery allegations for perks to the AIADMK leader surfaced, was also transferred, it issued a clarification later in the day, saying he was only asked to go on mandatory leave. He is set to retire on July 31.

Other key transfers

The government has posted N.S. Megharik as Additional Director General of Police (Prisons). He was ADGP, Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) and a former Bengaluru Commissioner.

In another significant development, State intelligence chief M.N. Reddi has also been shunted out in less than four months after he took charge of the key position. The sources said that Chief Minister Siddaramaiah was unhappy with the ''mishandling'' of law and order situation in Dakshina Kannada district, apart from how the prison row went out of hand, embarrassing the government.

Mr. Reddi has been posted as DGP, ACB.

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Controversies surrounding Sasikala after Jayalalithaa's death

Mannargudi clan hogs limelight at funeral, triggers controversy

Family members of Sasikala at Rajaji Hall, where former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s body was kept for the public to pay their last respects.

Family members of Sasikala at Rajaji Hall, where former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s body was kept for the public to pay their last respects.  

Many taken aback by the prominent presence of Sasikala’s relatives

After lying low for many years, the family members of V.N. Sasikala, the close confidant of late Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, particularly her husband M. Natarajan, were seen prominently at the funeral on Tuesday.

Almost all the family members — Ms. Sasikala’s sister-in-law J. Ilavarasi; the latter’s son and the AIADMK’s new power centre, Vivek; his sister Priya; son of Ms. Sasikala’s brother Sundaravadanan, Dr. Venkatesh, who once headed the party’s youth forum; son of another of Ms. Sasikala’s brothers Vinodhagan, V. Mahadevan; the husband of Sundaravadanan’s daughter Prabha, Dr. Sivakumar; besides Ms. Sasikala’s sister’s son, V. Baskaran — were seen standing around the late CM’s body at Rajaji Hall.

However, V.N. Sudhagaran, Jayalalithaa’s erstwhile foster son, and his elder brother T.T.V. Dinakaran, were not present.

“We are not able to understand how they were allowed to be present during the funeral because only Ms. Sasikala, who was expelled along with 12 of her family members, was readmitted into the party,” observed a senior AIADMK leader.

Ms. Jayalalithaa expelled Ms. Sasikala and others from the party on December 19, 2011. She also sent Ms. Sasikala out from her Poes Garden residence.

This was after allegations emerged that the family was planning a takeover of the party. But on March 28, 2012, Ms. Sasikala declared that she had snapped all ties with all those who had indulged in activities inimical to Ms. Jayalalithaa interests.

“What those who claimed to be my relatives and friends have done against ‘akka’ [elder sister] is an unforgivable betrayal. Irrespective of who they are, such persons are unwanted people to me too,” Ms. Sasikala said in a statement highlighted by the party’s Jaya Plus television channel.

Ms. Jayalalithaa said she accepted her friend’s explanation and revoked the disciplinary action against her. But the other relatives were not seen in party meetings.

On Tuesday, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi met newly sworn-in Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam and Ms. Sasikala, the local leaders accompanying them made it a point to introduce them to Mr. Natarajan.

A controversial figure for over two decades, he was someone who Jayalalithaa vocally disapproved of. She often said he had no connection with the party and none should be in touch with him.

DMK upset with Rahul

Meanwhile, some DMK functionaries were unhappy that Mr. Gandhi did not call on DMK president M. Karunanidhi, who is now in hospital.

“Let him [Mr. Gandhi] meet anyone. But what prevents him from meeting our leader, who is in an intensive care unit? He did not bother to call on him when he visited Apollo Hospitals [when Ms. Jayalalithaa was admitted there]. We do not know what the Congress leadership is up to,” said a DMK leader.

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Controversies surrounding Sasikala after Jayalalithaa's death

Take over AIADMK mantle, leaders appeal to Sasikala

New leader emerges: Posters have come up in Madurai, urging V.K. Sasikala to follow in the footsteps of Jayalalithaa.

New leader emerges: Posters have come up in Madurai, urging V.K. Sasikala to follow in the footsteps of Jayalalithaa.  

Party seniors make beeline for Poes Garden, want her as general secretary

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam, senior AIADMK Ministers and party functionaries met V.K. Sasikala, friend of late Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, at Poes Garden here and appealed to her to take over the leadership of the party.

Mr. Panneerselvam said, “Her leadership is necessary to ensure the party is run with military discipline. I urged her to fill the huge void created by the death of Amma.”

The path to electing her as the general secretary of the AIADMK seems to have been unequivocally cleared, as those who were perceived to be a challenge to her, also closed ranks behind her.

Nearly all the top leaders, including party presidium chairman E. Madhusudhanan and several former and current Ministers, made a beeline for the Poes Garden residence of Jayalalithaa, where Ms. Sasikala resides. After paying homage to a framed picture of the former Chief Minister, top leaders met Ms. Sasikala and urged her to take up the post of general secretary of the party.

By all accounts, while she listened to them patiently, she did not respond to their request.

‘Intelligence to lead’

“Everyone in the party prefers Chinnamma (as they have come to refer to Ms. Sasikala) for the party leadership. She alone can take along everyone with her. I have also told her to become the general secretary of the party as early as possible to put an end to all rumours,” said former Minister K.A. Sengottaiyan, who, a day earlier, issued a statement quelling speculation that he might raise a banner of revolt.

Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker M. Thambidurai said Ms. Sasikala should break her silence and come forward to lead the party. “She was with Amma since she took over the reins of the party and possesses the intelligence and skill to lead the party,” he added.

Jayalalithaa had often referred to Ms. Sasikala as a “sister.”

Mr. Madhusudhanan, former Ministers B. Valarmathi and Gokula Indira and former Wakf Board Chairperson Tamilmagan Hussain, who were in attendance, also joined the group in requesting her to lead the party. Televised on the party’s channel Jaya Plus TV, the team members were seen encircling Ms. Sasikala in the portico of the Poes Garden residence.

Ms. Sasikala was first introduced to Jayalalithaa by former IAS officer V. Chandralekha. Her husband M. Natarajan was Public Relations Officer (PRO) at Cuddalore where Ms. Chandralekha was the collector. Ms Sasikala ran a video shop in Alwarpet and even Jayalalithaa’s mentor MGR had encouraged their friendship as he had felt it would benefit her. At one point Ms. Sasikala became a permanent resident of Poes Garden and decided to distance herself from her husband as Jayalalithaa publicly announced that party workers should not have any truck with Mr. Natarajan.

Strains over family

Their relationship weathered many storms and not the least of them ensued when Jayalalithaa adopted Ms. Sasikala’s nephew V.N. Sudhakaran and conducted his wedding ostentatiously. This was among the reasons that led to the defeat of the AIADMK government in 1996. Jayalalithaa sent her out of Poes Garden twice, but readmitted her after Ms. Sasikala issued an apology and promised to sever all ties with her family members. However, they all emerged to stand beside the body of Jayalalithaa with Ms. Sasikala while it was kept in state at the Rajaji Hall. They were spotted with her, accompanying her to the funeral, and later, even on Friday, to pay homage at the memorial.

Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam along with senior colleagues once again met Ms Sasikala before presiding over the first cabinet meeting at the secretariat on Saturday, sending out a strong message within the party about who the leader was. The Chief Minister was followed by almost all senior party functionaries, MLAs and MPs, who met her and expressed solidarity with her leadership.

Saturday’s developments began with former minister C. Ponnaiyan briefing media about the leadership at the party headquarters. “There is no need to speculate about the next party chief. AIADMK is like a banyan tree and we will take a decision,” he said.

Asked specifically if Ms. Sasikala would take over the party, he said: “She is an important member of the AIADMK and there is nothing that stops senior members of the party from seeing her.” However, only a few hours later, senior leaders swore their allegiance to her, making it clear that their choice was Chinnamma.

Rallying point

Former Chennai Mayor Saidai S. Duraisamy said Ms Sasikala, who had a clear idea of men and matters in the AIADMK after working closely with Amma for over three decades, alone could be a rallying point when the party was going through a crisis.

“When Amma was in hospital, the enemies of the party predicted that its future would be doomed. We need to strengthen the organisation and only Chinnamma, acceptable to all sections of the party, can keep the party together,” said Mr Duraisamy. He added that while Ms. Sasikala did not make known her decision to party members that day, she gave everyone a patient hearing, listening to everything that every single person had to say.

Law Minister C.Ve. Shanmugam said, “After Amma, Chinnamma is everything to party leaders and cadres alike. She should lead the party and we are keenly waiting for the day she will become the general secretary of the party,” he said.

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Controversies surrounding Sasikala after Jayalalithaa's death

V.K. Sasikala appointed as AIADMK general secretary

A banner placed outside the AIADMK general council meeting venue mentioning V.K. Sasikala as the party's general secretary, on Thursday.

A banner placed outside the AIADMK general council meeting venue mentioning V.K. Sasikala as the party's general secretary, on Thursday.   | Photo Credit: V. Ganesan

Resolution passed at general council meeting says that until the formal election process is completed, she will hold all powers that come with the post.

The AIADMK general council on Thursday unanimously passed a resolution appointing V.K. Sasikala, close aide of former Chief Minister and party supremo Jayalalithaa, as general secretary of the party. 

The resolution said that until the formal election process was completed, she would hold all powers that came with the post.

The resolution read "as per Rule 20(2) of the party's by-laws, this Council unanimously resolves that V.K. Sasikala will be appointed General Secretary until she is formally elected to the post". It said, "Ms. Sasikala will have all powers vested with the general secretary."

The general council meeting at Vanagaram, on the outskirts of Chennai, began with leaders paying tributes to Jayalalithaa.

 

Through a resolution, the party sought the Nobel Peace Prize and the Ramon Magsasay award for Jayalalithaa and the installation of her statue in Parliament.

Later, Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam, along with a few other party leaders, met Ms. Sasikala and gave a copy of the resolutions to her.

Ms. Sasikala accepted the party members' request to function as the general secretary.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O.Panneerselvam addressing the media after Ms. Sasikala was elected general secretary.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O.Panneerselvam addressing the media after Ms. Sasikala was elected general secretary.   | Photo Credit: V. Ganesan

 

The general council meeting was presided by party presidium chairman E. Madhusudhanan. This was its first meeting after Jayalalithaa's death.

The chorus for Ms. Sasikala as general secretary started a few days after the death.

 

On Wednesday, senior AIADMK leader C. Ponnaiyan declared “there is no contest.”

All district and lower level party units and various mass organisations affiliated to the AIADMK had urged Ms. Sasikala to become the general secretary.

 

Ms. Sasikala has refrained from appearing in public after her family’s show of strength at the Rajaji Hall where Jayalalithaa’s body was kept for the public to pay their last respects.

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Controversies surrounding Sasikala after Jayalalithaa's death

‘Sasikala for CM’ campaign could spell trouble for OPS

A poster of Jayalalithaa’s close friend V.K. Sasikala in Tiruchi. File photo

A poster of Jayalalithaa’s close friend V.K. Sasikala in Tiruchi. File photo  

Senior leaders feel divided loyalty could send wrong signals to bureaucracy

With a section of ministers and AIADMK leaders openly launching a ‘Sasikala for CM’ campaign, incumbent Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam is likely to be caught in an uneasy situation where his own position as head of government could be undermined. While in the past Mr. Panneerselvam had held the top job twice as an “interim arrangement”; this time around, he appears set for a longer innings in the government.

However, before he could settle down in his official role, his own Cabinet colleague – Revenue Minister R.B. Udhayakumar, who also heads the Jayalalithaa Peravai, and the AIADMK Theni district secretary-cum-legislator Thangatamilselvan – have openly appealed to V.K. Sasikala to assume charge as Chief Minister in addition to the party’s general secretaryship. The appeal has been endorsed by a few others.

Mr. Udhayakumar, who on Monday tonsured his head to mourn the death of former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, however, sees nothing unusual about his desire to see Ms. Sasikala heading the Cabinet. “It is not a question of projecting someone as an alternative to someone else. As far as the party cadre are concerned, Chinnamma (Sasikala) is the only heir-apparent (of Jayalalithaa) and it is our desire that she should lead both the party and the administration,” he told The Hindu.

Now, posters have sprang up in various parts of the State calling upon Ms. Sasikala to follow in the footsteps of Jayalalithaa. In fact, one of the posters is designed in such a way that it reads as if Jayalalithaa is addressing the people: “I take leave after relentless hard work and Sasikala will step in to fill my role.”

OPS was Sasikala’s choice

Asked how could the AIADMK MLAs who have unanimously elected Mr. Panneerselvam as the Leader of the ruling party, renege on their affirmation, Mr. Udhayakumar contended that it was Ms. Sasikala who first identified Mr. Panneerselvam for the Chief Minister post in September 2001.

“She zeroed in on him for the Chief Minister’s post for the first time even though there were senior ministers like C. Ponnaiyan. She favoured him even on subsequent occasion in 2014. Now, we want her to take over the mantle of the party and government as she has learnt all the skills of governance by working closely with Amma (Jayalalithaa),” claimed Mr. Udhayakumar.

A former AIADMK minister, however, described the development as unfortunate and said it would not augur well for the State. “Mr. Panneerselvam was the natural choice of Jayalalithaa not once, but three times. Even when she was hospitalised, she transferred her portfolios to Mr. Panneerselvam. I do not know who is behind all these orchestrated campaigns. The divided loyalty of Cabinet members will also disrupt the functioning of the bureaucracy in the State,” said the leader, requesting anonymity.

He contended that Mr. Panneerselvam, over the years, had proved his mettle as an administrator through his affable nature and accessibility, and he deserved appreciation for effective rehabilitation work in the wake of Cyclone Vardah.

Former IAS officer M.G. Devasahayam said he would not rule out the hand of the Centre in the internal developments of the AIADMK so as to resort to a divide and rule policy. “I am not surprised by the demand of the AIADMK ministers and others as they are ‘slaves’,” he charged, adding that Mr. Panneerselvam was a weak Chief Minister. He suspects that the BJP could be exploiting the situation hoping to control the ruling party.

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Controversies surrounding Sasikala after Jayalalithaa's death

Sasikala set to become Tamil Nadu Chief Minister

AIADMK functionaries greet AIADMK general secretary V.K. Sasikala at the party headquarters in Chennai on Sunday.

AIADMK functionaries greet AIADMK general secretary V.K. Sasikala at the party headquarters in Chennai on Sunday.   | Photo Credit: B. Jothi Ramalingam

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam proposed her name at a meeting of party MLAs in Chennai.

Exactly two months after Jayalalithaa’s death, her long-time friend and AIADMK general secretary V.K. Sasikala was “unanimously” elected leader of the Legislature Party at a meeting in the party headquarters here on Sunday, paving the way for her to become the third woman Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu.

Ms. Sasikala, who has no formal political experience except for the last month-and-a-half, is expected to assume office on February 7 or 9. As per the constitutional mandate, she has to get elected to the Assembly as a legislator within six months of taking charge as Chief Minister.

OPS to quit

Incumbent Chief Minister and party treasurer O. Panneerselvam, who proposed her name for legislature party leader, at the MLAs’ meeting, announced that he would send his resignation to Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao. The resolution was adopted unanimously. Soon after, dressed in a green saree, Ms. Sasikala arrived at the party head office from the Poes Garden residence, in the Toyota Prado car (TN-09 BE-6167) used by Jayalalithaa.

Addressing the MLAs, 62-year-old Ms. Sasikala acknowledged the loyalty of Mr. Panneerselvam to the party and claimed it was he, who first urged her to take over as the general secretary as well as the Chief Minister, soon after Jayalalithaa’s death. “However, I was not in the frame of mind to accept it then,” Ms. Sasikala said in her speech, which was telecast by party mouthpiece Jaya TV.

With the Governor out of town, the change of guard is likely to take a couple of days. Mr. Rao was in Coimbatore on Sunday and left for New Delhi to attend a private function and his exact date of return to the city is not known, a Raj Bhavan official said.

Meanwhile, Mr. Panneerselvam faxed his resignation to the Governor. “Due to my personal reasons, I am tendering my resignation,” he said, requesting him to relieve the Council of Ministers appointed on December 6, 2016. In a separate letter to the PM, Mr. Panneerselvam thanked him for all the support during his tenure.

Tamil Nadu has on three occasions in the past witnessed persons not elected to the Assembly being sworn in as Chief Minister — C.N. Annadurai in 1967, V.N. Janaki (MGR’s widow) in 1987 and Jayalalithaa in 2001. Of them Janaki had to quit office within 24 days having lost the confidence of the House. Ms. Sasikala’s proposed swearing-in will be the third such event since May 2016 when Jayalalithaa retained power.

Mr. Panneerselvam was sworn in Chief Minister in the early hours of December 6 last year.

 

 

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Controversies surrounding Sasikala after Jayalalithaa's death

OPS revolts, says he was forced to quit

Tamil Nadu CM O. Panneerselvam at the Jayalalithaa memorial on Tuesday.

Tamil Nadu CM O. Panneerselvam at the Jayalalithaa memorial on Tuesday.   | Photo Credit: B. Jothi Ramalingam

‘Someone with a popular mandate alone should be Chief Minister’

Tamil Nadu’s politics took a dramatic turn on Tuesday night with outgoing Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam announcing that he was compelled to resign from his post and humiliated while holding the high office. Following this revolt, AIADMK general secretary V.K. Sasikala dismissed him from the post of party treasurer and appointed Dindigul Srinivasan in his place.

Later, addressing the media outside her Poes Garden residence, Ms. Sasikala said all the MLAs were together and would be meeting on Wednesday.

Earlier, hinting that he was not in favour of Ms. Sasikala taking over the reins of the government, Mr. Panneerselvam told the media at the Marina, “Only someone who has the support of all the cadre of the party and the mandate of the people should take charge as Chief Minister. Taking into account the future of Tamil Nadu, someone who can run the party efficiently and as per Amma’s wishes and keep up the good name alone should lead.” Mr. Panneerselvam, who said he wasn’t informed in advance about Sunday’s MLAs’ meeting, added that he would be willing to withdraw his resignation “if people wanted”.

Mr. Panneerselvam’s unexpected show of revolt at the memorial of Jayalalithaa, his political mentor, drew support from a cross-section of people, including AIADMK cadre who converged outside his house in the night. Some Ministers and supporters had assembled outside Ms. Sasikala’s residence.

The Chief Minister took everyone by surprise when he went to the memorial at the Marina around 9 p.m., accompanied by only his personal security staff, and sat in meditation for 40 minutes before alleging that Ms. Sasikala was “annoyed” over his government’s good work during Cyclone Vardah.

“I came here [Marina] because my conscience was pricking me. I have some truth to tell the people of the country and the cadre,” Mr. Panneerselvam said.

The Chief Minister said that when Jayalalithaa was in hospital, he was initially told that the plan was to make senior leader E. Madhusoodhanan the general secretary and him the Chief Minister.

However, after he assumed office, Revenue Minister R.B. Udhayakumar said Ms. Sasikala should also hold office as Chief Minister. This he felt undermined his position and he protested. Similarly, he was taken aback when Health Minister C. Vijaya Baskar told him that Ms. Sasikala’s brother Divakaran had conveyed that she should be general secretary instead of Mr. Madhusoodhanan.

OPS had questioned need for changing CM

Outgoing Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam told the media at the Marina on Tuesday night that he was not even informed about the meeting of the MLAs to elect V.K. Sasikala as leader of the legislature party.

“I didn’t have any information about the meeting. I was told that all the MLAs had been called and their signatures were being taken. I went to Amma’s house. Senior ministers, party officials and relatives of the party general secretary [Sasikala] were present,” he said.

“They informed me that all of us have to work together to make preparations for Sasikala to take over as the Chief Minister. I asked them what was the need for it. They told me that all MLAs are already at the party office, and one person should hold both posts,” the Chief Minister explained.

Mr Panneerselvam said he argued with them for nearly two hours about the need for the change at this juncture. “I reminded them that it was they who forced me to take up the Chief Minister’s post when I refused it after Amma’s death, and was humiliated many times, but no one said anything.

“Finally, they held my hand and told me that if I didn’t support it (Sasikala's elevation), it would go against the principles of the party. I told them I will go to Amma’s memorial and inform 'my mother'. But they didn’t allow me even that courtesy. I was cornered in that situation and was forced to give my resignation.”

The Chief Minister said he was speaking out after being “guided” by Jayalalithaa’s “soul”. “I was working with the mindset that not even a small crack should appear in the organisation (AIADMK) because of me. If required, I will be ready to fight alone,” he said.

Stalin's plea to Governor

DMK working president M.K. Stalin said in the wake of Mr Panneerselvam’s statement, the Governor must intervene and take steps to install a government in its places as per the Constitution. “It looks like there is no government in place presently,” he said.

In a midnight press conference, BJP national secretary H. Raja hailed the Chief Minister saying he had done a great service to the people of Tamil Nadu by coming out openly against Ms Sasikala. “He need not fear for his life,” Mr Raja said.

Governor to reach today.

Tamil Nadu Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao is expected to return.

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Controversies surrounding Sasikala after Jayalalithaa's death

Could have become CM the day Jaya died: Sasikala

Addressing cadre at Poes Garden, she accuses Panneerselvam of conspiring to form government with the help of DMK

Reiterating her charge that Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam “hobnobbed” with the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) in the Assembly a few days ago, AIADMK interim general secretary V.K. Sasikala on Monday said she would not have disturbed Mr. Panneerselvam from his post had he “emphatically turned down” the DMK’s ‘offer of support’ to him.

It may be recalled that on the last day of the Assembly session, DMK Deputy Floor Leader Duraimurugan had jovially told Mr. Panneerselvam, “We want you to continue as Chief Minister. We want only you as Chief Minister and we will back you.”

Arguing that Mr. Panneerselvam should have asked why would he need the DMK’s support when the AIADMK had formed a majority government, Ms. Sasikala accused the Chief Minister of having conspired to form a government with the support of the DMK.

Addressing cadre at Poes Gardens, she said “their [Mr. Panneerselvam and the DMK] calculation is that he should come out of the party with as many persons [legislators] as possible. With the support of the DMK which has the strength of 89 [in the House], they have planned to establish a government.” It was Mr. Panneerselvam who forced her to take the steps that she did [last week].

However, critics pointed out that on the day she was elected leader of the AIADMK Legislature Party, she had hailed Mr. Panneerselvam describing him as her “dear brother”. Therefore, the theory that she was angry at him for the Assembly episodes would not hold water.

Ms. Sasikala also claimed that she could have been sworn in Chief Minister on the night her long-time friend Jayalalithaa died on December 5, 2016.

According to her, five ministers including the rebel leader Mr. Panneerselvam had urged her to take over the top job. “I had told them that for me, more than anything, Akka [Jayalalithaa] is important. [On the day of funeral], I had to be with her body. I would not be away from the body even an inch. I have never aspired for any office. Whatever had to be done immediately should be done. If required, we can think of it later,” she claimed, addressing party members at Veda Nilayam.

Since she was in a “state of grief” following Jayalalithaa’s death, the post of Chief Minister did not appear important to her then.

Claiming that after MGR’s death when Jayalalithaa was pulled down from his gun carriage she wanted to quit politics, Ms. Sasikala said, only “I motivated her” not to give up and instead prove a point to the men who humiliated her.

‘Have seen it all’

Ms. Sasikala said she had assisted Jayalalithaa in her duties. “My job was to receive petitions from AIADMK cadre and bring to the notice of Amma [Jayalalithaa] those petitions that required urgent action. I was also involved in negotiations for alliance [at the time of elections].”

Explaining why she chose to install Mr. Panneerselvam as Chief Minister, she said her foremost priority was the continuance of the government, which was brought in by Jayalalithaa. “For this, I am prepared to sacrifice my life.”

Describing the Chief Minister as an “ordinary person” from Periyakulam, she said,

“No single individual can divide the party. I have seen one thousand Panneerselvams before reaching the present position.”

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Controversies surrounding Sasikala after Jayalalithaa's death

TN Governor likely to await SC ruling in Sasikala case

O. Panneerselvam with party workers and the public at his residence in Chennai.

O. Panneerselvam with party workers and the public at his residence in Chennai.  

The Raj Bhavan feels that “there is no vacuum and hence there is no need for being unduly alarmed.”

Rival factions of the AIADMK, led by interim general secretary V.K. Sasikala and Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam, may have to wait longer for Governor Ch. Vidyasagar Rao to decide on their claims of majority support in the Assembly. The Governor, in his assessment of the situation, has indicated that he is inclined to wait till the Supreme Court delivers its verdict on the appeals in the disproportionate assets cases against Ms. Sasikala.

Noting that Ms. Sasikala is not a member of the Assembly, the Governor has apparently been advised to consider this as a “restrictive” factor in swearing her in as CM.

Technically, there is no bar on a non-legislator to be sworn in as Minister. Article 164 (4) of the Constitution merely states: “A Minister who for any period of six consecutive months is not a member of the Legislature of the State shall at the expiration of that period cease to be a Minister.”

 

Not an enabling clause: SC

However, the Supreme Court had in a judgment — B.R. Kapoor Vs State of Tamil Nadu and Others, September 2001 — held: “Article 164 (4) is not a source of power or an enabling provision for appointment of a non-legislator as a Minister even for a short duration. It is actually in the nature of disqualification or restriction for a non-member, who has been appointed as a Chief Minister or a Minister as the case may be, to continue in office, without getting elected within a period of six months.”

Sources said in the backdrop of the Supreme Court indicating that it would deliver the judgement in the assets case against Ms. Sasikala soon, the Governor was wondering whether she would be able to contest an election as legislator within six months (should she be convicted).

Shadow of doubt constrains Governor’s decision

In his report to the Centre on the rival claims of AIADMK factions, Tamil Nadu Governor Ch. Vidyasagar Rao has taken into account the Supreme Court judgment that Article 164 (4) is not a source of power or an enabling provision for appointment of a non-legislator as a Minister even for a short duration, sources said.

Further, in the backdrop of the Supreme Court indicating that it would deliver the judgement in the disproportionate assets case against Ms. Sasikala soon, the Governor was wondering whether she would be able to contest an election as legislator within six months (should she be convicted), the sources added.

According to one source, the Governor was of the view that “Even when there is an iota of doubt about the ability of the person to get elected to Assembly within six months, Article 164 (4) has to be interpreted as a restriction/ disqualification as contained in the interpretation of the Supreme Court verdict.”

The Governor was bound by the Constitution to satisfy himself that a person staking claim would form a stable government. But the impending verdict has led to an uncertainty on whether Ms Sasikala would eventually qualify to become an MLA. Also public interest litigation petitions have been filed in the Supreme Court against inviting Ms. Sasikala to form the Government.

“Mr. Rao has been advised to wait for a few days so that a clear picture emerges enabling him to discharge his duties in accordance with the letter and spirit of the Constitution,” a source said.

Besides, the Raj Bhavan felt that a peculiar situation had arisen as Ms. Sasikala had submitted a resolution, originally proposed and signed by Mr. Panneerselvam, electing her as the AIADMK Legislature Party leader. The resolution itself was moved after Mr. Panneerselvam’s resignation was submitted to the Governor last Sunday. But now, the Chief Minister had submitted that he was constrained, forced and coerced to sign the resignation letter under duress and has requested the Governor to rescind action taken thereon.

“The Governor is also concerned about certain allegations of MLAs being confined and possibilities of horse trading,” a source said. Mr. Rao had on Friday held meetings with Chief Secretary Girija Vaidyanathan, Director General of Police T.K. Rajendran and Chennai Commissioner of Police S. George and instructed them to verify the allegations and ensure that the MLAs were acting as per their free will.

No vaccum

Mr. Panneerselvam is continuing as caretaker Chief Minister, pending alternative arrangements. In view of this, the Raj Bhavan feels that “there is no vacuum and hence there is no need for being unduly alarmed.”

He is learnt to be of the view that the present political situation is due to the internal affairs of the ruling party. “Mr. Rao does not want to take sides with any party. He wants to be guided only by the Constitutional provisions and their interpretations in case laws. Governor wants to uphold ideals of democracy and values of the Constitution,” a source said.

 

 

 

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Controversies surrounding Sasikala after Jayalalithaa's death

Sasikala stays back with flock, MLA ‘escapes’

AIADMK General Secretary V.K. Sasikala interacting with party MLAs at a resort in Koovathur near Chennai on Sunday.

AIADMK General Secretary V.K. Sasikala interacting with party MLAs at a resort in Koovathur near Chennai on Sunday.   | Photo Credit: PTI

A week into the political turmoil in Tamil Nadu, there was no word from the Raj Bhavan on the steps to form a stable government on Monday, even as some intense action was witnessed in rival camps of the ruling AIADMK headed by V.K. Sasikala and O. Panneerselvam.

While Ms. Sasikala went to the Golden Bay Resort in Koovathur near here and stayed back to keep her flock of MLAs together, the Madurai South MLA S.S. Saravanan escaped from the resort “in disguise” and landed in Chennai to join the Chief Minister’s camp.

Madurai Lok Sabha member R. Gopalakrishnan too backed Mr. Panneerselvam, taking the number of MPs in his faction to 12 (including two from the Rajya Sabha).

Mr. Saravanan claimed that being a civil engineer, he plotted his escape from the well-guarded resort by coming out wearing a T. shirt and Bermudas. “I wanted to leave before Ms. Sasikala came there,” he told journalists.

During the course of the day, Ms. Sasikala, addressing her supporters at Poes Garden, announced that it was she who had asked Mr. Panneerselvam to urgently seek an appointment with the Governor and take the oath of office as Chief Minister, along with the same Council of Ministers, past midnight on December 5, 2016 when Jayalalithaa died. She claimed that immediately after Jayalalithaa’s death, she sensed a conspiracy to divide the party.

Ms. Sasikala’s announcement stoked a controversy wondering how she took the decision on who should head the Government and what the composition of the Council of Ministers should be when she was neither an office-bearer of the AIADMK or held any constitutional office at that time. She was appointed interim general secretary only on December 29, 2016. Critics felt that her revelation proved their charge that Ms. Sasikala always functioned as an extra-constitutional authority.

The AIADMK leader further claimed that five Ministers, including Mr. Panneerselvam, had then urged her to take over as Chief Minister, saying “people would accept only her,” but she had declined contending that Jayalalithaa’s funeral was more important.

According to her, “many persons” were out to split the party and that is why she insisted that Mr. Panneerselvam’s Cabinet be sworn in without delay.

Meanwhile, for the first time since he rebelled against the leadership, Mr. Panneerselvam went to the Secretariat and had extensive interactions with officials, including Chief Secretary Girija Vaidyanathan, and some top police officers, ostensibly to assert his position. He went to the Secretariat shortly after 1 p.m. and remained there till 8 p.m. Besides issuing orders for compensation to the family of a girl who was raped and murdered, he was involved in discussions with officials, who appeared to have had a free chat with him.

Earlier in the day, Ponraj, former scientific adviser to the late President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, met Mr. Panneerselvam at his Greenways Road bungalow and extended support to him.

The DMK conducted its high-level executive meeting in Chennai under the leadership of its working president M.K. Stalin and urged the Governor to ensure that a floor test was done immediately so that a stable government could be formed.

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Controversies surrounding Sasikala after Jayalalithaa's death

High drama at Koovathur; criminal case filed against Sasikala and others

: For the AIADMK MLAs backing Sasikala and staying at the Golden Bay Resorts at Koovathur, Wednesday turned to be an eventful and dramatic day.

The day started with rumours that Sevur S. Ramachandran, Minister for HR&CE, has escaped from the resort. However, Mr. Ramachandran emerged from the resort and said he was safe and was staying there of his own free will. More MLAs, including women MLAs, were presented before the media to prove the point that none was being forcefully detained.

Elambai Tamil Selvan, Perambalur MLA, said, “There are 125 MLAs at the resort and all are free. We will vacate the resort once the Governor calls on Edappadi Palaniswami, leader of the AIADMK legislature party. A few more MLAs echoed similar views and said they were upset about the delay on the Governor’s part in taking a decision.

Meanwhile, Kanchipuram District Police registered a criminal case against AIADMK interim general secretary V.K. Sasikala for allegedly kidnapping party MLAs and detaining them at the resort.

It may be recalled that immediately after Sasikala was elected as Leader of the AIADMK Legislature Party on February 8, the MLAs were taken in buses to the Golden Bay Resort. A few days later, Madurai (South) MLA S.Saravanan “escaped” from there and complained that he was illegally confined by Sasikala and others.

Acting on his complaint, the Koovathur police registered a case against Sasikala and unknown others under Sections 342 (punishment for wrongful confinement), 343 (wrongful confinement for three or more days), 365 (kidnapping or abducting with intent secretly and wrongfully to confine person), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter a public servant from discharge of his duty) and 506(i) (criminal intimidation) of Indian Penal Code.

However, things turned dramatic in the afternoon as a police team led by Mutharasi, Superintendent of Police, Kancheepuram district entered the premises to ascertain whether the MLAs are being illegally confined.

There was a war of words between the cadre and the MLAs on one side and the police on the other, as the latter asked everyone apart from the MLAs to go away from the resort.

Police recorded independent statements from the MLAs on why they continued to remain at the resort.

Radhapuram MLA I.S. Inbadurai said, “The complaint is false and has been lodged with malafide intention.”

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Controversies surrounding Sasikala after Jayalalithaa's death

Sasikala convicted in DA case; can't contest elections for 10 years

File photo shows AIADMK general secretary V.K. Sasikala at former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s memorial in Chennai.

File photo shows AIADMK general secretary V.K. Sasikala at former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s memorial in Chennai.   | Photo Credit: B. Jothi Ramalingam

Sasikala and her co-accused — Ilavarasi and Sudhakaran — to pay a fine of Rs. 10 crore each

The Supreme Court on Tuesday set aside AIADMK general secretary V.K. Sasikala's acquittal by the Karnataka High Court in the Jayalalithaa disproportionate assets case and "restored in full" the trial court conviction of September 2014.

A Bench of Justices P.C. Ghose and Amitava Roy also set aside the acquittal of her two co-accused J. Ilavarasi and V.N. Sudhakaran and restored their conviction in the case. The SC said the appeals filed by Karnataka government and others, including DMK leader K. Anbazhagan, against the former Chief Minister has abated after her death on December 5, 2016.

The Supreme Court ordered Sasikala, Ilavarasi and Sudhakaran to surrender forthwith before the trial court concerned.

 

Even after Sasikala comes out after serving her four-year sentence, she would be disqualified to contest elections for the next six years as per the Supreme Court judgment in Lily Thomas versus Union of India of July 2013. The voluminous main judgment authored by Justice Ghose held that the trial court conviction of the three accused — A2 to A4 — on September 27, 2014 has been restored in full along with the consequent directions, including payment of fine and attachment of properties.

Fine of Rs. 10 crore

The trial court had sentenced Sasikala, Ilavarasi and Sudhakaran under Section 109 IPC read with Section 13 (2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act — abetment of criminal misconduct of a public servant — to simple imprisonment for a period of four years each and pay a fine of Rs. 10 crore each. In case of default, they would have to further suffer imprisonment for another year.

For the offence of criminal conspiracy leading to criminal misconduct of a public servant (Section 120 (B) IPC read with Section 13 (2)) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, all three were sentenced to simple imprisonment for six months and a fine of Rs. 10,000 each.

Special Judge John Michael Cunha had ordered the attachment properties held by Indo-Doha Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals Pvt Ltd., Signora Enterprises Pvt. Ltd., Ramraj Agro Mills Ltd., Meadow Agro Farms, Riverway Agro Products.



The prosecution had alleged that these companies were operating "for and on behalf of Ms. Jayalalithaa." The prosecution had submitted that,  in essence, these companies were used as receptacles of ill-gotten cash for which no explanation was given during investigation nor during the trial. In his separate but concurring judgment, Justice Roy said in the open court that he had expressed the court's "deep concern about escalating corruption in the society."

The judgment has come seven months since the Supreme Court reserved the appeal for judgment on June 7, 2016 after 20 days of hearing arguments. The hearing had started on February 23 last year.

The Bench had issued notice in July 2015 on the appeals. In its arguments, the State government had argued that the bare fact that it was neither considered nor ignored as the “sole prosecuting agency” in the corruption case would by itself vitiate the High Court judgment.

The State wanted the Supreme Court to address on what would be the effect of not repairing this omission throughout the appeal hearings in the High Court till they were disposed off.

The State's document filed by advocate Joseph Aristotle and settled by senior advocate B.V. Acharya, had contended that its appeals were not vitiated as the duly appointed Public Prosecutor was "never given the opportunity" of an oral hearing. His role was reduced to just handing over written submission, that too on the orders of the Supreme Court, at the fag end of the appeals in the High Court.

The State government pointed out that the acquittal can be set aside by just correcting the "totalling mistake" to show that the disproportionate assets of the accused comes to Rs. 16.32 crore, that is 76.7% of the income as against the 8.12% arrived at by the High Court.

“Consequently, the judgment of acquittal is liable to be converted into one of conviction even as per the purported principle in Krishnanand Agnihotri's case,” the State government contended.

The 1977 case law, quoted by the High Court, had held that an offence was not made out if disproportionate assets was found to be less than 10% of the income. It said the logic does not apply in this case in which the disproportionate assets run to crores.

'No authority to interfere in TN's affairs'

The defence counsel had argued that Karnataka had no authority to "interfere in the internal affairs of Tamil Nadu" and a violation of the federal scheme enshrined in the Constitution. They had invoked Article 162 of the Constitution, which prescribed that the executive power of the State Executive is co-extensive with that of the State Legislature. The defence had argued that only Tamil Nadu had the "exclusive jurisdiction" to file the special leave petition or appeal against the Karnataka High Court judgment of acquittal on May 11, 2015 as Ms. Jayalalithaa was a "public servant of the State of Tamil Nadu."

 
The defence had asked whether Karnataka was entitled to maintain the petition against the High Court's judgment setting aside the confiscation of assets of five companies which the prosecution alleged were owned by the accused persons. That too when there was no charge levelled under the Benami Prohibition Act.

Here are the 10 points on which Karnataka had challenged the Justice C.R. Kumaraswamy verdict before the Supreme Court:


1.  Valuation of buildings spread across 1,66,839.68 sq. feet:


After PWD valuation and 20% deduction, Trial Court fixes total cost at Rs. 22,53,92,344.

High Court re-evaluates the cost of construction of the buildings and arrives at total cost of Rs. 5,10,54,060.

Compares cost of construction of “posh and palatial multi-storied buildings” to construction of a PWD “shanty shed”.

The total cost of Rs. 5.10 crore arrived at by the HC is even less than what the accused persons themselves admitted is the cost, Rs. 8,60,59,261.

2. Marriage expenditure of co-accused and “foster son” V.N. Sudhakaran:


Prosecution calculated expenses at Rs. 6,45,04,222


Trial Court arrives at sum of Rs. 3,00,00,000


High Court reduces to “paltry sum” of Rs. 28.68 lakh solely on the basis of Ms. Jayalalithaa's IT statement

3. Loans as income:


Karnataka government says the 'most serious and glaring infirmity' in the judgment delivered by Justice C.R. Kumaraswamy is in the matter of considering loans as income.


DVAC found value of loans borrowed by the accused is Rs. 5,99,85,274.


High Court judgment holds DVAC ignored 10 items of loans borrowed from nationalised banks valued at Rs. 24,17,31,274. This despite the accused having never raised any such point either in their appeals or their voluminous written submissions before the HC.


Karnataka government exposes “mathematical error” in the HC judgment. Says totalling of all 10 loans comes to only Rs. 10.67 crore and not Rs. 24.17 crore.

4. DA is 76.7 pc of income and not 8.12 pc:


Karnataka government's calculations in the petition is Rs. 37,59,02,466 (total assets) subtracted by Rs. 21,26,65,654 (total income) is equal to Rs. 16,32,36,812.


How Karnataka government calculates the percentage of disproportionate assets: The value of 16,32,36,812 (disproportionate assets) multiplied by 100, the value of which is divided by Rs.21,26,65,654 (total income) is equal to 76.7 percent.

5. Income from grape garden:


Prosecution computes total agricultural income from grape garden at Hyderabad as Rs. 5,78,340.


Ms. Jayalalithaa computes income from the property as Rs. 52,50,000

Trial Court computes the income as Rs. 10,00,000


High Court judgment computes the income as Rs. 46,71,600

6. Gifts as income:


HC judgment treats gifts worth Rs. 1.5 crore received by Ms. Jayalalithaa on her 44th birthday as her “lawful income”.

Karnataka petition argues that a CBI case on this issue is pending before the Supreme Court and the accused failed to bring this fact to the HC judge's notice.

Further, the petition contends that any gift received as a lawful source of income should be intimated to the authorities as per law Prevention of Corruption Act.

7. Income of SASI Enterprises:


Trial Court rejected plea by accused that SASI Enterprises (a partnership firm between Ms. Jayalalithaa and second accused N. Sasikala Natarjan) had a rental income of Rs. 12,60,800 and only Rs. 6,15,900 was taken into consideration by the prosecution.

HC judgment arrives at an “abstract figure” of Rs. 25,00,000 on “guess work”, Karnataka petition contends.

8. Income of Jaya Publications and “theory of Namadhu MGR”:


When accused said total business income from Jaya Publications is Rs. 1.15 crore, the HC judgment raises it inexplicably to Rs. 4 crore by “erroneously treating the total amount of turnover as net profit”.

HC judgment further rejects Trial Court conclusion that the evidence regarding Namadhu MGR scheme is “false” and “fabricated”.

9. Income of Super Duper TV Pvt Ltd:

Accused number 3 and company proprietor, V.N. Sudhakaran, claimed the company made a “legitimate income” of Rs. 1.10 crore during the check period.

Trial Court rejects the claim.

High Court judgment sets aside the trial court finding, “unilaterally assesses” income as Rs. 1,00,00,000.

10. Assets:

Trial Court records 146 sales of immovable properties, making net worth from real estate sales to nearly Rs. 20 crore.

High Court judgment, for no reason, ignores 49 of the 146 sales and reduces total value of sale proceeds to Rs. 6,24,09,120.

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Controversies surrounding Sasikala after Jayalalithaa's death

After SC rebuff, Sasikala surrenders in Bengaluru

AIADMK interim general secretary V.K. Sasikala paying floral tribute at the Jayalalithaa memorial before leaving for Bengaluru on Wednesday.

AIADMK interim general secretary V.K. Sasikala paying floral tribute at the Jayalalithaa memorial before leaving for Bengaluru on Wednesday.   | Photo Credit: K.V. Srinivasan

AIADMK leader visits Jaya memorial before leaving for jail

After a day of high drama in Tamil Nadu, AIADMK interim general secretary V.K. Sasikala, convicted by the Supreme Court in the disproportionate assets case on Tuesday, surrendered at a special court, a few hundred metres from Bengaluru Central Prison at Parappana Agrahara, and became prisoner no. 9234.

Before leaving for Bengaluru by road on Wednesday, Ms. Sasikala stopped by at the memorial to Jayalalithaa on the Marina in Chennai and dramatically slapped the memorial’s slab thrice as if taking a vow. After this, she headed out to former Chief Minister M.G. Ramachandran’s house in Ramavaram and paid floral tributes to his portrait and his statue. She also spent a few minutes sitting on the floor of the house in front of the portrait.

Performs puja

Earlier in the day, after the Supreme Court turned down her petition to give her two weeks’ time to surrender, Ms. Sasikala called in priests to Jayalalithaa’s Veda Nilayam in Poes Garden, and performed special pujas. After these rituals, family members reportedly entered the house, followed by former Ministers and a few sitting MPs to meet her.

Outside the residence, AIADMK supporters raised slogans against Tamil Nadu Governor Vidyasagar Rao, claiming they were irked by the delay in inviting the leader of the AIADMK’s legislature party Edappadi Palaniswami to form the government. They also raised slogans against Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam, as they have been doing frequently this past week, interspersed with cries of “Chinnamma” referring to Ms. Sasikala.

Around 11.45 a.m., the iron gates of Veda Nilayam were thrown open, and a car drove out with Ms. Sasikala and her relative J. Elavarasi, also convicted in the disproportionate assets case.

From Veda Nilayam, she proceeded straight to the memorial of Jayalalithaa and then to Ramavaram.

Her estranged nephew V.N. Sudhakaran left from his home in Valasaravakkam and travelled separately to Bengaluru.

Finally, at 5.13 p.m., minutes before the court administrative hours came to a close, Ms. Sasikala reached Parappana Agrahara Road in Bengaluru.

Soon after Ms. Sasikala’s convoy neared the prison premises, a clash broke out between mediapersons and the group that came with her convoy.

In the morning, Justice P.C. Ghose told her lawyer: “We will not change a word of that order. We do not intend to pass any further orders after directing her to surrender immediately... Hope you understand the meaning of the word ‘immediately’?”

The police initially allowed six cars to enter the road leading to the Bengaluru Central Prison at Parappana Agrahara, which was barricaded at a distance of 50 feet from the entrance. As they closed access to the entrance, two more cars awaited their turn to be allowed inside.

It was only then that the police realised that Ms. Sasikala was seated in the front seat of the eighth car, along with co-convivt Ms. Elavarasi.

The AIADMK general secretary, dressed in a red sari, looked visibly tired, and did not even acknowledge the slogans of “Chinnamma” from party supporters as her car made way inside.

What followed was a clash between media persons and the group that came with the convoy.

Some miscreants, seizing the opportunity, started wrecking property outside.

An unidentified man jumped atop a white SUV, which was part of the convoy that tailed Ms. Sasikala’s vehicle, and smashed the window pane with his foot.

By the time the police lathi-charged protesters to maintain law and order, two vehicles had been damaged.

Escorted by police

Once inside, Ms. Sasikala and Ms. Elavarasi were taken to the prison building escorted by a team of police. “Sasikala was smiling and talking to Elavarasi and did not show any sign of disappointment when police handed her over to prison authorities,” prison officials said. The third convict, Mr. Sudhakaran, followed them a little later at 6.37 p.m. The prison department officials said Ms. Ilavarasi was allotted prisoner no. 9235 and Mr. Sudhakaran 9236.

Ms. Sasikala had reportedly requested the court to be allowed home-made food as she suffers from diabetes and other ailments, but the court directed her to submit the medical reports along with the requisition to the prison department.

According to prison sources, Ms. Sasikala’s breakfast will be chapati, sambar, and curd; lunch will be ragi/rice or chapati as per her choice.

Her request for a special room for prayers was rejected, said a source at Central Prison. She had also reportedly asked for A class facilities and a room for yoga, and private bathroom, which prison officials said were under the discretion of the court.

As soon as she entered the cell, the prison staff asked her to deposit her valuables at the counter and recorded her history in the prison book as per procedure. Ms. Sasikala and Ms. Elavarasi were later taken to the hospital inside the prison for a general check-up.

According to a senior police official, Ms. Sasikala and Ms. Elavarasi would be made to stay in the general women’s cell as there is no special provision for them. However, considering her background, a team of women prison staff have been deputed at the prison cell to monitor any eventualities. They were given a plate, a tumbler, and blanket and a list of jobs they would be interested in. They will have to work to earn their livelihood inside the prison during their stay, and they can collect their earnings after their release, officials added.

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Controversies surrounding Sasikala after Jayalalithaa's death

T.T.V. Dinakaran back in AIADMK, named deputy general secretary

T.T.V. Dinakaran

T.T.V. Dinakaran  

They have submitted their apology in writing, says the AIADMK chief.

Hours before she left for Bengaluru on Wednesday, AIADMK interim general secretary V.K. Sasikala revoked the suspension of her nephews T.T.V. Dinakaran and S. Venkatesh from the party, readmitted them as members and even appointed Mr. Dinakaran the deputy general secretary. She declared that he would enjoy the powers of a general secretary in her absence.

In a statement, she said they had tendered an apology in writing for their past actions. For all practical purposes, Mr. Dinakaran will now be the general secretary.

As per the AIADMK’s rules, the general secretary will nominate deputy general secretaries, and they shall assume the powers of the general secretary in his or her absence.

Mr. Dinakaran, former MP, and Dr. Venkatesh, former secretary of the youth wing, were among the 12 removed from the party on December 19, 2011, on charges of interfering with government administration.

In the case of Ms. Sasikala, she was readmitted to the party on March 31, 2012, after she gave an undertaking that she would snap ties with those, particularly family members, who had betrayed the interests of Jayalalithaa.

“As far as I am concerned I am not interested in politics; I do not aspire to holding big positions in the party. I am also not interested in becoming an MLA or MP. I do not want to become a minister and be part of a government. In fact I am not interested in involving myself in public life. I want to be a true younger sister of Akka [Jayalalithaa]. I already dedicated my life to Akka. Hereafter, I do not need a life for myself, I want to serve Akka,” she had said then in her apology.

‘Shocked by conspiracy’

She had said she was shocked by the conspiracy hatched by her family members against Jayalalithaa. “Some relatives and family members took advantage of my staying at Poes Garden and indulged in unwanted activities and earned a bad name for the party and created confusion,” she had said then.

“I do not want to associate with those who have betrayed Akka as what they have committed is an unforgivable offence,” she had added.

Meanwhile, objection has risen to the appointment of Mr. Dinakaran as Deputy General Secretary among the rank of AIADMK supporters. A loud voice was E. Madhusudhanan, former AIADMK presidium chairman who recently moved to Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam’s camp. He said the post could not be held by someone who has not been a primary member of the party for a period of five years, and therefore the appointment was illegal.

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Controversies surrounding Sasikala after Jayalalithaa's death

Edappadi Palaniswami sworn in as Tamil Nadu Chief Minister

Paying homage Edappadi K. Palaniswami went to the Jayalalithaa memorial after being sworn in Chief Minister.

Paying homage Edappadi K. Palaniswami went to the Jayalalithaa memorial after being sworn in Chief Minister.   | Photo Credit: M. Vedhan

New CM says he will take floor test tomorrow

Ending the political impasse in Tamil Nadu, Governor Ch. Vidyasagar Rao on Thursday evening administered the oath of office to Edappadi K. Palaniswami as the 13th Chief Minister along with a Council of 30 Ministers.

Mr. Palaniswami said he would take a floor test in the Assembly at 11.a.m. on Saturday to prove his majority, ostensibly to ensure that there is no room for horse trading by the rebel camp headed by former Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam.

Gets 15 days

The Governor had granted him 15 days to prove his majority. This is the first time in 29 years a Chief Minister will be seeking a vote of confidence in the House. Barring Mr. Panneerselvam and K. Pandiarajan, who revolted against the leadership of the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), all other Ministers in the outgoing Cabinet were retained. The only new face was K.A. Sengottaiyan, newly appointed chairman of the party presidium.

Mr. Sengottaiyan, a veteran, was given School Education, a portfolio held by Mr. Pandiarajan, while Mr. Palaniswami kept to himself all the subjects including Finance and Home, held by Mr. Panneerselvam.

In addition, he retained the powerful Public Works Department and Highways and Minor Ports, which he handled earlier.

 

After assumption of office, he visited the mausoleums of former Chief Ministers, Jayalalithaa, M.G. Ramachandran and C.N. Annadurai. Expressing confidence that he would demonstrate his majority in the House, Mr. Palaniswami told the media that the “Amma” (Jayalalithaa) government would continue. He then left for the Golden Bay Resorts in Koovathur, where MLAs supporting him have been confined since February 8.

The swearing-in ceremony was, among others, attended by T.T.V. Dinakaran, deputy general secretary of the AIADMK and V. Divakaran, brother of the interim general secretary V.K. Sasikala.

M. Thambidurai, propaganda secretary of the AIADMK and Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha, told The Hindu that there was “no split” in the party. Apart from the two MLAs [Mr. Panneerselvam and Mr. Pandiarajan] who were expelled from the Assembly, the eight others who went to the other camp “are with us”, he said.

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Controversies surrounding Sasikala after Jayalalithaa's death

Palaniswami wins trust vote after violence by DMK MLAs

Chaos in House: DMK MLAs surround Speaker P. Dhanapal during the confidence motion moved by Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami on Saturday.

Chaos in House: DMK MLAs surround Speaker P. Dhanapal during the confidence motion moved by Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami on Saturday.  

Only 11 vote against govt. after eviction of DMK members, Congress walk-out

The two-day-old AIADMK government, led by Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami, won the confidence vote in the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly on Saturday after violence in the House that ended with the eviction of all DMK members and a walkout by their allies — the IUML and Congress. From the AIADMK, 122 members voted in favour and 11 dissidents voted against the motion.

The House, which met at 11 a.m. had to be adjourned twice due to pandemonium as DMK members shouted slogans, demanding that voting be deferred or that a secret ballot be conducted. Speaker P. Dhanapal later put the motion to vote by division and declared it passed in favour of Mr. Palaniswami.

In the 234-member House, one seat was vacant (of former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa), DMK president M. Karunanidhi could not vote due to ill-health and one AIADMK MLA P.R.G. Arunkumar, boycotted the proceedings, after having escaped from a private resort near Chennai.

The 11 members who voted against the government belonged to the rebel camp led by former Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam.

Call for secret ballot

As soon as Mr. Palaniswami moved the motion of confidence, AIADMK dissident S. Semmalai urged the Speaker to take up a privilege notice on MLAs “being kept in confinement at a beach resort.” The Leader of the Opposition M.K. Stalin, Congress Legislature Party leader K.R. Ramasamy, Mr. Panneerselvam, IUML legislator Aboobucker and rebel AIADMK legislator from Mylapore R. Natraj demanded that the voting should not be conducted in a hurry. They said since the AIADMK legislators in the Sasikala camp were allegedly confined in a resort for 10 days, they should be allowed to meet voters in their respective constituencies before deciding on their vote.

Mr. Stalin said the MLAs had been lodged in a resort like prisoners and hence they were not in a position to vote in a free manner. “There should be a secret ballot or the proceedings should be adjourned for a week so that the members could breathe freely,” he said.

But the Speaker made it clear that he would abide by the Assembly Rules 19(1) and conduct the voting as per his powers, though Mr. Stalin argued that he could adjourn the proceedings under Rule 122 of the House.

Less than an hour into the proceedings, the DMK legislators trooped into the well of the House and began raising slogans, saying “We want adjournment, we want secret ballot”. Suddenly some MLAs turned violent and ransacked the table of the Speaker and of the Assembly Secretary A.M.P. Jamaludeen. They also dislodged the microphone on the Speaker’s table and tore Assembly Rule books, papers and files, and hurled them towards the Speaker. This prompted Mr. Dhanapal to adjourn the House till 1 p.m.

As Mr Dhanapal was escorted to safety, some DMK legislators were seen pulling him towards them. Later, two MLAs K.K. Selvam and B. Ranganathan were seen sitting on the Speaker’s chair, in contravention of the rules.

Later Mr. Dhanapal complained that his shirt was torn. Throughout the pandemonium the AIADMK ministers and MLAs remained passive onlookers.

When the House reconvened at 1 p.m., the DMK MLAs once again opposed the confidence vote, and indulged in another round of violence. The Speaker then adjourned the House till 3 p.m.

In the meantime, the DMK legislators staged a dharna inside the House and the Speaker ordered the watch and ward staff, with fresh reinforcements to evict them. The marshals, who were led by a few senior police officers in white uniform (watch and ward staff’s uniform), then evicted the protesting MLAs. Many, including Mr Stalin, who was encircled by his party colleagues, were bodily lifted and removed from brought out of the House. Several MLAs were also dragged out on the floor as they resisted eviction.

The House also witnessed some DMK members attacking the watch and ward staff and hurling chairs at them. In the melee a few members including former Minister I. Periyasami lost their dhoties. Former Minister Poongothai Aladi Aruna was seen standing on a bench making a cone of a paper and shouting slogans.

Once all the DMK MLAs were evicted, the eight Congress MLAs and lone IUML member walked out in protest.

Division method

The Speaker then opted for the division method of voting and the entire House was divided into six blocks with only the Sasikala and Panneerselvam factions of the AIADMK participating in the process. After the bell rang thrice, Assembly secretary Jamaludeen called members of the block one by one. First he counted those who supported the government and followed it by those who opposed the confidence vote. Finally, he ascertained if anyone wanted to remain neutral. No member took a neutral position.

Eventually, the Speaker declared that the motion has been passed. “Even if the DMK members and others had voted in the House, the government would have won the trust vote,” he said.

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Controversies surrounding Sasikala after Jayalalithaa's death

EC freezes 'two leaves' for R.K. Nagar bypoll

MPs belonging to the Sasikala faction leaving the Election Commission on Wednesday.

MPs belonging to the Sasikala faction leaving the Election Commission on Wednesday.   | Photo Credit: Shanker Chakravarty

Recognises split in party, bars use of ‘AIADMK’ till final order

The Election Commission on Wednesday froze the AIADMK’s “Two Leaves” symbol, prohibiting its use in the coming R.K. Nagar byelection in Chennai.

The decision came after the EC heard the rival factions of O. Panneerselvam and V.K. Sasikala, who had staked their claim to the symbol. Pending a final resolution of the dispute, the factions have also been barred from using the party’s name in the bypoll.

Observing that a deeper examination of the issue was required and that the more than 20,000 pages of evidence would have to be examined, the EC, in its interim order, said any hasty decision during the nomination process for the byelection might lead to an erroneous conclusion, preju- dicially impacting the rights of either or both the sides.

The EC, which recognised that there was a split in the party, said pending the final settlement of the dispute, neither group was permitted to use the name ‘All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam.’ Also, they cannot use the party symbol for the bypoll on April 12.

“Both the groups shall be known by such names as they may choose for their respective groups, showing, if they so desire, linkage with their parent party ... and both the groups shall also be allotted different symbols as they may choose from the list of free symbols notified by the Election Commission for the purpose of the byelection,” said the order.

‘New names today’

Accordingly, the EC directed both factions to furnish names of their groups by 10 a.m. on Thursday.

They have also been instructed to suggest three options each for possible election symbols.

The factions have been allowed a final opportunity of adducing all other documents and affidavits by April 17 for the final settlement of the dispute.

During the hearing on Wednesday, the Sasikala faction contended that there was no split in the party, and it was only a matter of internal dissent. “However, the Commission is satisfied, based on documents filed and oral submissions made by the learned counsels of both the parties, that there are two rival groups in the party, led by E. Madhusudhanan and V.K. Sasikala,” said the EC order.

Although the Panneerselvam camp also challenged the appointment of Sasikala as the party’s interim general secretary, the EC restricted the proceedings to the allotment of the symbol.

 

Describing the ruling as “unexpected,” T.T.V. Dhinakaran, deputy general secretary of the faction led by Sasikala, said late on Wednesday that they would either move the Madras High Court or the Supreme Court to challenge it.

The faction, represented by lawyers C.S. Vaidyanathan and Guru Krishna Kumar, contended that Sasikala had been convicted in a disproportionate assets case and, therefore, she could not contest elections. Since her appointment had been disputed, they argued, she should not be allowed to nominate her nephew T.T.V. Dinakaran as the party candidate.

Notably, the Commission has not recognised Mr. Dinakaran as the party office bearer, as his name is not there in list submitted to the electoral body.

‘Sasikala not eligible’

“A person calls herself the general secretary. She is not eligible to contest, she is not eligible to be an election agent and she is not even eligible to be a voter. How can she give Form ‘B’ [authorisation for nomination of a candidate] to contest on behalf of the party? This was our argument before the Commission. When she is not eligible to allot the symbol, we are the original owners…,” AIADMK Rajya Sabha MP V. Maitreyan of the Panneerselvam faction had said after the hearing concluded.

 

On behalf the Sasikala camp, lawyers Salman Khurshid, Veerappa Moily, Mohan Parasaran and Aryama Sundaram, relied upon the test of majority as upheld by the Supreme Court in case of a split in the party as per Para 15 of the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order.

The Election Commission had taken recourse to the same test to decide the Samajwadi Party symbol dispute in favour of Akhilesh Yadav.

“We opposed the very maintainability of the petition. We pointed out that it was not even a case where they had a majority of legislators [supporting them]. The majority of legislators, the Chief Minister, the Cabinet, parliamentarians and the general counsel were with us. As there was no case for claim of majority, they would not have the right at all to claim for the allotment of the symbol to them. So, there is no question of stopping us from using the symbol,” said Mr. Sundaram.

Excerpts from the Election Commission order

(a) Neither of the two groups led by the petitioners (Shri E. Madhusudhanan, Shri O Panneerselvam and Shri S. Semmalai) and the respondents (Smt. V.K. Sasikala and Shri TTV Dhinakaran) shall be permitted to use the name of the party ‘All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’ simplicitor;

(b) Neither of the aforesaid two groups shall also be permitted to use the symbol ‘Two Leaves’, reserved for ‘All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’;

(c) Both the groups shall be known by such names as they may choose for their respective groups, showing, if they so desire, linkage with their parent party ‘All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’; and

(d) Both the groups shall also be allotted such different symbols as they may choose from the list of free symbols notified by the Election Commission for the purposes of the current bye-election

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Controversies surrounding Sasikala after Jayalalithaa's death

EC cancels RK Nagar bypoll

Police disburse crowd at the RK Nagar Assembly constituency in Chennai on Sunday, following a clash between two groups during the campaign.

Police disburse crowd at the RK Nagar Assembly constituency in Chennai on Sunday, following a clash between two groups during the campaign.   | Photo Credit: B. Jothi Ramalingam

The nodal officer appointed in Chennai submitted a detailed report to the Commission on Sunday.

The Election Commission, late on Sunday night, cancelled the by-election to the Dr. Radhakrishnan Nagar Assembly constituency in Chennai, based on evidence of large scale bribing of voters by the ruling AIADMK (Amma) among other parties and candidates.

The apex poll body particularly highlighted the alleged role of Tamil Nadu Health Minister C. Vijaya Baskar, whose house and premises were searched by the Income-Tax Department on Friday last, in vitiating the electoral process.

 

“The Income-Tax authorities have also informed that several complaints were received recently indicating that Dr. Vijaya Baskar is the main person involved in bribing the voters in R.K. Nagar Assembly constituency which was to go to the polls on 12th April, 2017. Some loose sheets were found with his accountant Mr. Srinivasan indicating distribution of ₹89 crore to a number of politicians for further distribution among the voters,” the Election Commission’s order signed by Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi and Election Commissioners O.P. Rawat and A.K. Jothi said.

Cash of ₹5 crore was seized from the associates of Dr. Vijaya Baskar and from his native place. “Incriminating documents in the form of overall money distribution charts to several leading political executives and functionaries totaling to ₹89 crore were found from the premises of Dr. Vijaya Baskar.

Further distribution charts, ward-wise and voter-wise, entrusted to each of these politician totaling to Rs. 89 crores were found and seized from the room allotted to Dr. Vijaya Baskar in the MLAs’ hostel. Further, a lot of incriminating material including voters list marking against each voter either DMK or AIADMK and amount to be paid and paid in some cases, were also found and seized,” the order noted.

Holding the entire process of the election null and void, the EC said the byelection would be held by the Commission in due course when "the vitiating effect created by the distribution of money and gift items to allure the electors... gets removed with the passage of time and the atmosphere in the constituency becomes conducive to the holding of free and fair election.”

As the Model Code of Conduct is already in place, the enforcement agencies directly report to the EC on seizures and findings which may have a bearing on free and fair conduct of the coming election.

Accordingly, the nodal officer appointed in Chennai submitted a detailed report to the Commission on Sunday.

The Chief Election Commissioner, Nasim Zaidi, and other senior EC officials examined the report and following legal consultations, decided to cancel the byelection.

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Controversies surrounding Sasikala after Jayalalithaa's death

T.T.V. Dhinakaran arrested for bid to bribe poll panel

In the net: T.T.V. Dhinakaran arrives for questioning at the Inter State Cell Crime Branch office, in New Delhi on Monday.

In the net: T.T.V. Dhinakaran arrives for questioning at the Inter State Cell Crime Branch office, in New Delhi on Monday.   | Photo Credit: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

Along with Mr. Dhinakaran, his close friend Mallikarjuna was taken into custody

The Delhi police Crime Branch late on Tuesday arrested AIADMK (Amma) deputy general secretary T.T.V. Dhinakaran in connection with an alleged attempt to bribe Election Commission officials to secure the ‘two leaves’ symbol for his faction.

He was said to have made the attempt through middleman Sukesh Chandrashekhar, who was arrested last week. Along with Mr. Dhinakaran, his close friend Mallikarjuna was taken into custody. Speaking to The Hindu, Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Praveer Ranjan confirmed the two arrests. While Mr. Dhinakaran is accused of roping in Mr. Chandrashekhar for the bribery attempt, the role of Mr. Mallikarjuna is not known yet, though sources claimed it was for facilitating the deal. The arrest of Mr. Dhinakaran follows four days of questioning, during which the police claimed to have gathered a lot of information and confronted the two accused. Mr. Mallikarjuna and Mr. Dhinakaran’s personal assistant Janarthana were asked to join the investigations on Tuesday.

Officers said Mr. Janarthana would be used as a witness because the fresh arrests were made only on his testimony. Both he and Mr. Dhinakaran were being questioned at the Inter State Cell office of the Crime Branch in Chanakyapuri.

Earlier, the Delhi police said they had been told by Shah Faisal, a hawala operator, that he had handed over money to Mr. Chandrashekhar for the bribery attempt.

Faisal told the police that he had been instructed to collect a parcel containing the money from a person in Chennai. He also had been allegedly told to hand over the parcel to Mr. Chandrashekhar.

The Delhi Police Crime Branch said Faisal’s statement can be a crucial link in unearthing the money trail. The amount in the parcel is said to be ₹10 crore, a part of which (₹1.3 crore) was purportedly seized from Mr. Chandrashekhar at the time of his arrest.

Another hawala operator whose name has cropped up during investigations is one Gopi. According to the police, during the hawala transaction the accused had used Gopi’s mobile phone to speak to Faisal and others. Gopi so far has not joined the investigations, but is likely to do so in the coming days as a notice has been sent to him. To confront him with the accused duo and make more recoveries, the police requested an extension of Mr. Chandrashekhar’s custody which was granted by the Tis Hazari court.

Court chides police

Earlier in the day a special court asked the Delhi Police why no action had so far been taken against Mr. Dhinakaran when there were allegations that he attempted to bribe the EC.

“The whole allegations are against him. Show me the call details where it shows Sukesh Chandrashekar [under arrest] talked to Dhinakaran,” special judge Poonam Chaudhry told the city police. She made these observations while extending the police remand of Mr. Chandrashekhar by three days.

The judge directed the police to show the call details which proved that Mr. Chandrashekhar was in touch with the politician.

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Controversies surrounding Sasikala after Jayalalithaa's death

AIADMK ruling group revolts against Sasikala

Decides to distance her family from party and government

In an attempt to unite the party and retrieve its election symbol, senior members of the ruling AIADMK (Amma), led by Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami, on Tuesday night revolted against jailed party general secretary V.K. Sasikala and her nephew and deputy general secretary, T.T.V. Dhinakaran. The faction also resolved to keep the latter “completely away” from the affairs of the party and the government.

Emerging from a consultative meeting, held at the Chief Minister’s house on Greenways Road here, Finance Minister D. Jayakumar told journalists that the decision to sideline the Sasikala family was taken in deference to the wishes of the people and the party cadre.

“We had a consultation meeting to take immediate steps to ensure that the party and the government should continue to provide Amma’s [Jayalalithaa’s] golden rule, not just for the remaining four years but forever. The unanimous view and the desire of the 1.5 crore cadre of the AIADMK and the Tamil Nadu people is that the party and the government must be run without the interference of one family, i.e, Mr T.T.V. Dhinakaran’s family,” Mr. Jayakumar said.

He added that the party had decided that the Sasikala family had to be completely sidelined. “There shall be no interference in the affairs of the party and the government. We decided about this and have chosen to inform the people and the cadre,” the Minister said.

Committee to be set up

A committee will be formed to administer the party till a general secretary is elected, he added. The first signs of a revolt against the Sasikala family were seen last week when senior leaders led by Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker M. Thambi Durai and Electricity Minister P. Thangamani met Mr. Dhinakaran and reportedly told him to step down as deputy general secretary.

On Monday night, when Mr. Dhinakaran was out of town allegedly to meet his aunt Sasikala at the Parappana Agrahara prison in Bengaluru, several Ministers met at Mr. Thangamani’s house, with the blessings of the Chief Minister, to chalk out a road map for a possible merger with the AIADMK (Puratchi Thalaivi Amma), headed by former Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam.

The final decision to sideline the Sasikala family was taken hours after Mr. Panneerselvam laid down two conditions for unity: the exit of the general secretary’s family from the party and a probe into the circumstances of Jayalalithaa’s death. However, Mr. Jayakumar denied that pressure from Mr. Panneerselvam had precipitated the rebellion.

“So far as OPS is concerned, he said he was prepared to hold talks with us. We, too, were prepared and welcome his view. Let them come and join us so that the party could be run as a disciplined organisation and we can retrieve the ‘Two Leaves’ symbol. But our decision is a reflection of the feeling of the grassroots workers of the party and the people,” he said.

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Controversies surrounding Sasikala after Jayalalithaa's death

AIADMK MLAs caught in sting deny receiving money

A view of the office of Madurai South MLA S.S. Saravanan. File

A view of the office of Madurai South MLA S.S. Saravanan. File   | Photo Credit: R. Ashok

Footage shows Madurai South MLA S.S. Saravanan and Sulur MLA R. Kanagaraj claiming bribes were offered for supporting Sasikala.

In a dramatic revelation, two legislators belonging to the rival factions of the AIADMK have been caught on camera claiming that money and even gold was offered to MLAs to support the Sasikala camp in February after the rebellion by former Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam.

However, Madurai South MLA S.S. Saravanan (AIADMK-PTA) and Sulur MLA R. Kanagaraj (AIADMK-Amma), who were caught on tape in an alleged joint sting operation by two television channels, did not provide any evidence of the bribery.

After the television channels aired the footage, the two legislators, individually, claimed to The Hindu that they did not receive any money.

Series of claims

In the grainy video footage, Mr. Saravanan, in a conversation with Shawnawaz Khan of Tamil television channel Moon TV, is heard making a series of claims about money being offered to MLAs who were herded on to buses and taken to the Golden Bay resorts in Koovathur after Mr. Panneerselvam’s rebellion.

 

“When we boarded the bus, they said 2 [₹2 crore] and then they said 4 [₹4 crore] before it reached Kuvathur. They then said 6 [₹6 crore] after reaching the resort. Had they given the money in the same instant, nobody would have moved,” he is heard claiming. “In the end, it was good that I moved to the OPS camp. They said they will give me a seat [to contest elections] next time around and they will take care of my expenses.”

Allegations denied

When contacted, he claimed that he had not seen the tapes as he was travelling, but saw snippets sent to him on WhatsApp. “This does look like a sting operation. But I have not taken any money. I am not aware if others took money,” he said.

Mr. Kanagaraj denied having made any statement implying that the Sasikala camp had promised money and gold to legislators in return for their support. He claimed that he had never told anybody that either he or other MLAs were given money while they were at the Golden Bay resorts.

He also denied receiving money to extend support to the Chief Minister during the trust vote. “I am yet to watch the TV footage,” he added.

(With inputs from T.K. Rohit in Chennai and Karthik Madhavan in Coimbatore.)

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Controversies surrounding Sasikala after Jayalalithaa's death

Sasikala paid bribe to top jail official, staff for preferential treatment, says DIG in report to DGP

Report says the AIADMK interim general secretary got VIP treatment at the Parappana Agrahara Central prison in Bengaluru

DIG (Prisons) D. Roopa of Karnataka has submitted a report to the Director General and Inspector General of Police (DG-IGP) R.K. Dutta, accusing her senior colleagues of accepting a ₹2 crore bribe from AIADMK interim general secretary V.K. Sasikala in return for preferential treatment at the Parappana Agrahara Central prison in Bengaluru.

In the report submitted on Wednesday, she accused DG (Prisons) H.S. Sathyanarayana Rao and his staff of accepting the bribe. The report also alleged that the jail staff had accepted bribes from Ms. Sasikala for allowing the installation of a makeshift kitchen in her cell and being provided with an inmate as a cook.

According to sources, copies of the report have been submitted to the Home Secretary and the Anti Corruption Bureau.

Onus is on her: Rao

Mr. Rao, in a reply, said, “Let the officer concerned investigate. The onus is on her to prove the allegations... I had visited the prison and inspected it, and found no such irregularities or corrupt practices.”

He had some time ago issued two memos to Ms. Roopa, and claimed that she had submitted the report to counter his memos. The first memo was for procedural lapses and the second for not attending the Chief Minister’s meeting with senior police officers at the police headquarters last Monday.

When contacted, Ms. Roopa refused to discuss the report, a copy of which is available with The Hindu. It also alleges gross negligence by officers, with inmates being given charge of the medical record room and pharmacy.

Key points of Roopa's report

1. On July 10, based on reports that drugs were being used by inmates in the prison, she conducted a test using a drug test kit on 25 inmates and 18 tested positive. A majority had consumed ganja while the others used barbiturates and benzodiazepine. Though she filed a report with Chief Superintendent of Prisons Krishnakumar to prevent the supply of drugs, no action has been taken.

2. The medical record room, which contains the files of all inmates, is supposed to be supervised by wardens appointed by the government. However, inmates have been put in charge. As a result, many medical records, which were supposed to be submitted to courts, were missing.

3. An inmate had misbehaved with a woman nurse during a medical check-up. Though a complaint was filed, no action was taken. Inmates force doctors to issue reports in their favour with recommendations that they be hospitalised, and threaten doctors if they do not comply.

4. The prison authorities have put inmates in charge of the pharmacy. As a result, drugs that are supposed to be issued to patients with mental disabilities are being grossly misused.

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Controversies surrounding Sasikala after Jayalalithaa's death

DIG Roopa’s second report alleges more ‘privileges’ to Sasikala

D. Roopa

D. Roopa  

The report alleges that a special meeting room has been set up at the jail for Sasikala’s visitors and jail staff erased CCTV footage of the meetings “at the behest of seniors”.

Deputy Inspector General of Police (Prisons) D. Roopa, on Saturday, submitted a second report on irregularities at Bangalore Central Jail, Parappana Agrahara, just three days after she kicked up a storm with a first report alleging that senior prison officials had accepted money to provide privileges to high profile inmates including AIADMK General Secretary Sasikala.

Copies of the second report were submitted to DG&IGP R.K. Dutta, Director General of Police (Prisons) H.N. Sathyanarayana Rao, the offices of the chief secretary and home secretary and also to the Anti-Corruption Bureau. Ms. Roopa, while admitting that she had submitted a second report, refused to share details. However, The Hindu has learned that in this report, too, she has highlighted preferential treatment awarded to Sasikala. “The report alleges that a special meeting room had been set up at the jail for Sasikala’s visitors with a table and chair for the General Secretary and four chairs for the visitors,” said a high-level source who requested anonymity. This room was reportedly set up next to the office of the Chief Superintendent of the Prisons.

There are allegations that Sasikala received more visitors than the allowed quota at the Parappana Agrahara jail complex in Bengaluru

There are allegations that Sasikala received more visitors than the allowed quota at the Parappana Agrahara jail complex in Bengaluru  

 

 

In her first report, Ms. Roopa alleged that prison officials had accepted ₹2 crore to provide privileges including an attendant and a special kitchen for Sasikala. There are also allegations that she received more visitors than the allowed quota, but their visits were erased from prison records and CCTV cameras. “She alleges that CCTV coverage at the barracks where inmates like Sasikala are housed were deliberately made defunct. Two cameras in the visitor’s room that everyone has to pass through also did not have records.” It was based on this information, which she learned from a prison officer, that Ms. Roopa inspected Central Jail on June 28 and later on July 10.

“Two top officials of Parappana Agrahara and the Belagavi prison have instigated a protest amongst inmates and staff against me for filing a report on the irregularities in Bangalore Central Jail,” Ms. Roopa has allegedly written in her report seeing strict action against the erring officials, according to the source.

Mr. Rao was not available for comment, while Ms. Roopa said she had nothing to say on this matter.

Recordings erased?

In the second report, Ms. Roopa said she had used a video camera from the prison department to record the statements of the inmates during her visits. It was during these interactions that she pieced together the alleged irregularities. While returning to her office, she had asked one of the staff to send the recorded clip but what she got was an empty clip. According to a source, when she questioned the the staff, they confessed it had been done at the behest of seniors.

Inmates refuse to return to barracks

Over 700 inmates of the central prison in Parappana Agrahara poured out their woes to Deputy Inspector General of Police (Prisons) D. Roopa on Saturday. They alleged torture, severe punishment and threats to transfer them to other prisons if they did not meet the demands of prison officials.

While she was hearing them out, prison staff allegedly tried to silence them.

The DIG summoned the Chief Superintendent of Police (Prisons) Krishna Kumar and pulled him up for not following protocol by providing an escort and remaining present during her inspection.

Later, sensing trouble, Ms. Roopa walked out of the prison gate following which the prisoners staged a protest demanding her return to resolve their grievances.

The protest continued till late on Saturday night with inmates refusing to return to their barracks.

Meanwhile, after her inspection of the prison, Ms. Roopa visited the jurisdictional Parappana Agrahara police and pulled up the Inspector for failing to curtail the smuggling of marijuana into the jail.

This prompted the Parappana Agrahara police, led by Deputy Commissioner of Police (South East) M.B. Boralingaiah, to rush to the prison to maintain law and order.

Earlier, Director General of Police (Prisons) H.N. Sathyanarayana Rao visited the central prison around noon. He was followed by Ms. Roopa three hours later.

The visit by both officials comes ahead of an inspection by a special team headed by former IAS officer Vinay Kumar, constituted by the State government, to probe the irregularities mentioned in the report submitted by Ms. Roopa.

No irregularities during my tenure: Parameshwara

Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president G. Parameshwara on Saturday claimed there were no irregularities in the Parapppana Agrahara jail when he was the Home Minister.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah currently holds the Home portfolio.

Speaking to presspersons here, Dr. Parameshwara said if any police official was found indulging in irregularities or permitting VIP treatment to inmates by receiving bribes, the Chief Minister would take action based on the inquiry report.

Timeline

  • July 12, 2017: Karnataka DIG (Prisons) D. Roopa submits a report to DG&IGP R.K. Dutta accusing seniors in the prison department of corruption

  • July 12, 2017: DG (Prisons) H.S. Sathyanarayana Rao says the onus is on Ms. Roopa to prove the charges. Cites two memos issued to Ms. Roopa in the past as the reason for the report filed by the police officer against him.

  • July 12, 2017: CM Siddaramaiah orders an enquiry into allegations made by Ms. Roopa. The State government issues a notice to the officer for speaking to the media against service rules. Ms. Roopa responds that she was not responsible for the report being leaked to the media.

  • July 12, 2017: Ms. Roopa submits a second report

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