Sasikala, Panneerselvam and Tamil Nadu: what’s going on

Almost a week ago we put out an article detailing what the whole hullabaloo in the Tamil Nadu politics was. Now things have reached a crescendo after the Supreme Court convicted Sasikala in a 19-year-old disproportionate assets rendering her unable to contest elections for 10 years and needing to serve imprisonment for 4 years. So below is a summary about the whole affair and the way forward in Tamil Nadu politics in an easy to read Q&A format:

Q1) What was the case?

A) Going back to the basics, Sasikala and former CM J Jayalalitha were accused of amassing disproportionate assets worth about Rs 66.65 crores during Jayalalitha’s CM tenure from 1991-96. Sasikala’s relatives V N Sudhakaran and Elavarasi were also accused. In May 2015, Jayalalithaa, Sasikala and two other accused were acquitted by the Karnataka High Court in the disproportionate case. The Karnataka government then moved the Supreme Court against the high court’s ruling. Today the Supreme court delivered its verdict.

Q2) What is the Supreme Court verdict?

A) The High Court conviction of the 3 accused (Sasikala and her 2 relatives) was restored in full with the convicted directed to surrender before the trial court. This verdict was in relation to the appeals filed by Karnataka Government against the May 11, 2015 acquittal of  Jayalalithaa and Sasikala. Sasikala was sentenced to four years in prison and as she had already served 6 months of imprisonment she would now spend 3.5 years behind bars. She also has been barred from contesting elections for the next 6 years.

Q3) Sasikala jailed so problem solved, Panneerselvam becomes CM right?
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A) No, not so fast. Even though Sasikala has suffered a huge blow she is not going out without a fight. Remember the MLA’s she has held hostage well are still holed up there and Sasikala has fielded her personal Pannerselvam (Edappadi Palaniswami) as her proxy who yesterday afternoon was elected as the leader of the AIADMK legislative party at the resort and hopes to stake claim to form the government. The resort MLA’s though might finally have some respite after 50 cops entered the resort building this afternoon by acting on the complaint received about abducted MLA’s.

Q4) So Panneerselvam hasn’t won yet? I like that guy!

A) No he hasn’t won yet. Last evening he was stopped from entering the Guantanamo Bay Golden Bay Resort (Where all MLA’s are currently residing) where he claims 11 MLA’s supporting him are being pressured to stay against their will. His game plan involves getting as many MLA’s possible which would scuttle the chances of the Sasikala camp from reaching the 117 majority mark. Panneerselvam currently has the support of 11 MLA’s out of 137. Yesterday evening Panneerselvam again went to Jayalalitha’s memorial, the place where it all began and was joined there by Jayalalitha’s niece, Deepa Jayakumar, who signalling the times to come, announced her intention to work with Panneerselvam. Speculations are rife about her being projected as Jayalalitha’s heir sometime in the future.

Q6) So has Sasikala surrendered yet?

A)  She didn’t surrender yesterday and in a press conference after getting all emotional broke down in tears and blamed the DMK for the DA case. Today morning she went to Jayalalitha’s Poes Gardens residence where she(Sasikala) too resided. From there at around 11am she left for Jayalalitha’s memorial at Marina beach and prayed there for some time. In the morning the Supreme Court had rejected her plea to seek more time for a surrender. She has finally left for Bangalore where she would surrender before a court and get lodged into Parappana Agrahara prison. Though as a way to set her house in order she made Dhinakaran her nephew the Deputy General Secretary of the party and the AIADMK organisation secretary Nellai Karuppasamy Pandian resigned in protest over the appointment.

Q5) So what is the Governor going to do?

A) Governor Vidyasagar Rao is literally the kingmaker. Most likely he will order a composite floor test. For helping him arrive at the decision he had consulted heavyweights like AG Mukul Rohtagi, Constitution expert Soli Sorabjee and former Solicitor general Mohan Parasaran, two out of the three experts recommended this floor test. As per reports the decision of the Governor should be should arrive today but there are reports which suggest that the Governor now is not keen to order the floor test but would now ask Sasikala’s loyalist Palanisamy to form government and prove his majority.

Q7) What is a composite floor test then?

A) As there is more than one party staking claim, the governor would call a special session to find who has the majority which will be found via ballot boxes or electronically or via a voice vote. The one who has it would be asked to form the government, in case of a tie the speaker can cast the vote.

Q8) Frankly everything has become so complicated, it’s not cool anymore. What should I do?

A) If that is the case then thank god  you are not one of those who had to read the 570 page verdict or continue to stay imprisoned in that resort. And if you are into football then you can forget everything and fully concentrate on the Championship League’s Round of 16.

 


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