The Supreme Court has held VK Sasikala, AIADMK chief, guilty of helping former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa amass illicit wealth worth over 60 crores in the 1990s and has convicted her.
Ms Sasikala will have to surrender immediately and will send to jail. This puts an end to her claim to be Tamil Nadu’s next chief minister – she cannot hold public office or contest elections for the period of her jail term and six years after that.
Ahead of the Supreme Court verdict, Ms Sasikala, 61, spent the night at the five-star Golden Bay Resort resort in Mahabalipuram, 80 km from Chennai, along with about 120 legislators whom she has sequestered for almost a week. Ms Sasikala’s claim to the Chief Minister’s post was challenged by interim Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, who took charge of the state after J Jayalalithaa died in December.
He could now be invited by the state’s Governor to prove he has majority support in the assembly. Mr Panneerselvam had alleged that Ms Sasikala has held MLAs “captive” at the resort and that they will vote for him if “set free and allowed to decide.”
Nine legislators including a minister have joined Team Panneerselvam over the last few days, two of them since last night. Both Ms Sasikala and Mr Panneerselvam met Tamil Nadu Governor C Vidyasagar Rao last week and presented their claim to take a trust vote ahead of the other.
He was reportedly waiting for the Supreme Court verdict in the corruption case. A trial court had convicted Ms Jayalalithaa and VK Sasikala and sentenced them each to four years in jail. Both spent a few months in jail before the Karnataka High Court overturned the trial court order acquitting them.
The Karnataka government had appealed against the acquittal and the top court had reserved verdict in June last year.