Chennai: Expelled All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) leader VK Sasikala, who returned to Tamil Nadu to a grand reception on Monday, reached party founder and late Chief Minister MG Ramachandran`s house in Ramavaram Gardens in Chennai on Tuesday (February 9) morning and paid floral tributes to his statue.
Sasikala, who completed her four-year jail term in Bengaluru in a corruption case, reached Kanchipuram around midnight where the leader was welcomed by AMMA cadres. Earlier on Monday morning, she left for Tamil Nadu from the Bengaluru hotel where she was staying after being discharged from the hospital.
Former AIADMK leader returned to Tamil Nadu after completing her quarantine in Bengaluru, where she will stay at her niece J Krishnapriya`s residence in Chennai`s T Nagar area. She was discharged on January 31 from Bengaluru`s Victoria hospital where she was undergoing COVID-19 treatment. She has been in quarantine since then.
She was officially released from judicial custody on January 27 after completing her four-year prison sentence in a disproportionate assets case. In 2019, the Income Tax Department had attached properties worth Rs 1,600 crores belonging to her under the provisions of the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act.
With her return coinciding with the upcoming Tamil Nadu Assembly polls, political circles were abuzz with the kind of impact she could make to the ruling dispensation which reiterated she was not welcome into its fold.
The 65-year-old former confidante of late Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, however, announced she would involve herself in active politics and called for unitedly taking on a "common foe" and ensure it does not come to the ruling saddle again.
Embarking on a near 15-hour journey road trip that may normally take not more than six hours, Sasikala's convoy had to wade through the waiting and waving supporters at many points, with chants hailing 'chinnamma' renting the air.
Sasikala crossed into Tamil Nadu at Athipalli in Krishnagiri district bordering Karnataka, around 10 am as her supporters broke into celebrations, dancing to drum beats and showering flower petals on her convoy. She visited a couple of temples on the way home.
Invoking late AIADMK stalwarts M G Ramachandran and Jayalalithaa, she called for unity to jointly defeat the "common foe". A PTI report quoted her as saying "My desire is that we must jointly work to ensure our common foe does not come to the ruling saddle again in Tamil Nadu."
The AIAMDK, however, reiterated Sasikala and those with her had nothing to do with the party and that it was illegal on their part to use the party flag as she travelled in a car sporting it, for the second time in the last two weeks.
Senior AIADMK leader and Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar took exception to Sasikala using the party flag and recalled the AIADMK's police complaint against it. "Sasikala and her aides have no link to AIADMK... It is illegal for anyone else (other than party functionaries) to use the flag," he told reporters at Chennai on Monday.
Clad in a green colour saree, the favourite hue of Jayalalithaa, and wearing a face mask, Sasikala travelled in a car that sported the AIADMK flag over the bonnet, disregarding the warning by the ruling party against its use by non-members.
On the ruling AIADMK Ministers petitioning the police against her use of flag in her car, she said it showed their apprehension. Responding to media queries about supporters' demand to "wrest control of the AIADMK," she said "I will meet you all soon. Will speak in detail then."
"Sure, for party workers," was her response when scribes asked if she would engage in active politics, months ahead of the scheduled Assembly polls in the state.
Sasilaka underwent her sentence in the Rs 66.65 crore disproportionate assets case at the Parapana Agrahara central prison in Bengaluru since February, 2017 and was set free on January 27. However, she remained at the Government Victoria Hospital, where she had been admitted after testing positive for COVID-19 while under judicial custody.
The AIADMK suffered a split with O Panneerselvam, now deputy chief minister, and Palaniswami heading two factions, but they later merged the groups, and the general council of the combined party expelled Sasikala in September 2017 along with Dhinakaran and others.
(With Agency Inputs)