Major shock for VK Sasikala...Can she cast her vote in TN polls?

In what has become a major controversy ahead of the assembly polls, expelled ADMK General Secretary VK Sasikala's name has gone mysteriously missing from the voters' list. The matter has come to light on Monday, exactly a day ahead of the crucial assembly polls, and the development has shocked her supporters and AMMK members with many flaying the ruling ADMK party for playing conspiracy in removing her name from the list. 

VK Sasikala was the close aide of late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa. As the former was with the latter for over three decades, Jayalalithaa's 'Veda Nilayam' residence in Poes Garden, Chennai had become the permanent residence of Sasikala and for her relatives including her sister-in-law Illavarasi. Till Jayalalithaa was alive, Sasikala had cast her vote with her for the elections by having the address of Jayalalithaa's residence as her address. 

In December 2016, Jayalalithaa had passed away at the age of 66 while she was serving as the Chief Minister. Days after her demise, Sasikala had tried to become the next Chief Minister. However, when she prepared to become the next Chief Minister, VK Sasikala was awarded a four-year prison sentence after getting convicted in the Disproportionate Assets Case in February 2017 in which Jayalalithaa was the first accused. 

VK Sasikala was lodged in the Parappana Agrahara Central Prison in Bengaluru along with her relatives Illavarasi and Sudhakaran. While she was in prison, the Tamil Nadu government has taken possession of Jayalalithaa's Poes Garden residence and converted it into her memorial. As the government had acquired the property, VK Sasikala and Illavarasi had lost their permanent address, which is mandatory for casting the vote. 

As the election had neared, the Election Commission was in the full process of finalizing the eligible voters in Tamil Nadu by adding new voters, editing the details of the existing voters, and removing the ineligible voters from the list. According to reports, VK Sasikala and Illavarasi had removed their names under the grounds of ineligible voters. The development has sparked fresh controversy and several AMMK leaders had slammed the ADMK leaders for intentionally removing Sasikala's name from the voters' list. 

Poes Garden falls under the Thousand Lights constituency, which has become one of the most-watched constituencies in Chennai. Vivek Jayaraman, the son of Illavarasi was also one of the residents who lived in Poes Garden.  However, after the demise of Jayalalithaa and the incarceration of VK Sasikala, Vivek had moved to another residence in Chennai and got his name enrolled in the Voters' list. Sasikala and Ilavarasi could not get enrolled as they were in prison during the last election time - the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. 

As prisoners don't exercise the right of voting under the People's Representation Act, Sasikala and Illavarasi couldn't vote in 2019. Sasikala had served four-year imprisonment and she got released on January 27, 2021. She arrived in Chennai on February 8, 2021, and as she had lost her permanent address in Poes Garden, she has been staying at Illavarasi's daughter Krishnapriya's residence in T Nagar, Chennai. As the election neared, it was expected that Sasikala's name would be enrolled from this T Nagar residence. 

However, it has now come to light that Sasikala's name was missing from the voters' list. The reports say that her counsel Raja Senthur Pandian had approached the Election Commission immediately after her release to add her name to the electoral roll. But, the Election Commission had completed the process of addition or deletion in the electoral roll by the time Pandian approached the commission. Speaking to a news agency, Pandian said that the commission had told him that they cannot do anything as the rolls have already been published. 

Pandian further said that no proper intimation was sent to Sasikala in the prison and she was not told that her name has been removed from the voters' list when the government had taken over Jayalalithaa's residence in Poes Garden. On Monday, Thousand Lights AMMK candidate N Vaidhyanathan had slammed the ADMK regime and asked how can her name be removed from the voters' list. Vaidhyanathan has claimed that the deletion was purposely done on the advice of Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami. 

Vaidhyanathan said that Sasikala made Edappadi Palaniswami Chief Minister and the removal of her name from the voters' list is the betrayal. The AMMK candidate further added that Sasikala would definitely vote for him. The reports say that the shocking development had stirred major controversy ahead of the polls and on Monday, Raja Senthur Pandian had addressed a Tamil news agency during which he said that a petition has been moved to the Election Commission that Sasikala must be allowed to vote on Tuesday and added that further course of action will be taken after ascertaining how her name was removed. The commission is yet to respond back to the petition due to which Sasikala stands with less possibility of casting her vote.