When Tamil Nadu celebrates Republic Day on January 26, the ADMK leaders must be caught up with the fresh challenge of addressing what would erupt as a heated dispute and tussle within the party after the release of jailed leader VK Sasikala, who would be getting released from the Bengaluru Central prison on January 27.
As Sasikala, who was the closest aide of late Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, is just three weeks away from the release, it has been expected that she would be making a political resurgence which would stir a political storm in the ADMK party ahead of the assembly polls as the possibilities of dissents are highly likely in the state ruling party, levying fresh tensions for Edappadi Palaniswami to succeed in his bid to become the party's face after Jayalalithaa.
According to reports, the speculations that surfaced around the release of Sasikala are coming to end after her legal counsel Raja Senthoor Pandian has confirmed that Sasikala will be released from the Parappana Agrahara prison in Bengaluru by January 27. Speaking to a news agency, Pandian said that the necessary formalities and due procedures concerning her release have been completed and she is expected to be released by January 27.
Pandian has also written to the prison authorities regarding the release. Sasikala was sentenced to four-year imprisonment after she was convicted in the disproportionate assets case in which Jayalalithaa was the first convict. Sasikala has been lodged in the Central prison since February 14, 2017, and she was lodged in the prison along with her relatives Ilavarasi and Sudhakaran and the court had imposed a Rs 10 crore fine for each of them.
Sasikala was sent to prison when she was mulling to become the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu following the demise of Jayalalithaa. She named Edappadi Palaniswami as the Chief Minister before going into prison. Later, Edappadi Palaniswami took over the leadership of the party and he shook hands with Panneerselvam, who revolted against the rise of Sasikala, and merged his faction into the party and they both had removed Sasikala and the post of General Secretary from the party. The ADMK party then expelled the leaders who supported Sasikala and her nephew TTV Dhinakaran had launched a new party to rebel against the ADMK and its leaders.
Though Edappadi Palaniswami claimed to be emerging as the replacement of Jayalalithaa, the ADMK party has always been witnessing the intra-party tussle along with the external allegations leveled by the opposition. Despite being locked up in the prison, Sasikala has been revolving in the limelight of the state political debates and when she went into the prison after the previous assembly polls, she will be getting released three months ahead of the legislative elections and Edappadi Palaniswami is nearing an acid test to tackle the resurgence of the jailed leader.
Sasikala has been surfaced with a series of speculations over the early-release for several months and her legal counsel had on last year said that Sasikala would be getting released in October 2020 under the grounds of remission and she would be granted the early release based on her good conduct. However, she wasn't released in October, and according to the RTI reply for the query asked by the activist on Sasikala's release in which it had said that Sasikala will likely to be released on January 27.
The RTI reply said that she would be imprisoned for one more year if she fails to pay a fine of Rs 10 crore. Earlier, her counsel has paid the fine amount and Sasikala had also petitioned the prison authorities demanding the early release under her good conduct and these developments had stirred speculations over her release. While the developments around her release had troubled the ADMK leaders, the latest confirmation on her release is expected to put the ADMK leaders into fresh tension ahead of the assembly polls.
The reports say that Sasikala would be involving in active politics and her resurgence is expected to draw her supporters and dissented leaders from the ADMK to her faction which would levy more challenge to the Chief Minister and his faction, when he has been hoping to bring the party under his control and to retain the reign for the third consecutive times. Her release would possibly change the state of the current ADMK and it had stirred various speculations on how the party would respond to her comeback.
Several leaders are predicting that Sasikala's release would divide the ADMK and would trigger fresh disputes in the party. Some of the ADMK ministers are also expressing remarks in favor of Sasikala in their bid to show that they still support her. However, former Union Minister and Congress leader P Chidambaram had predicted that there is the possibility that the ADMK will get divided into four factions after the release of Sasikala and the political analysts said that ADMK would face a real problem in the form of demands from Sasikala supporters to get a ticket to contest in the polls. The supporters would pressure the ADMK leaders to grab a ticket by signaling that they would join Sasikala if they weren't given the chance to contest.