BENGALURU/CHENNAI — V.K. Sasikala, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam general secretary, was found guilty of corruption on Feb. 15 and returned to jail as the battle for supremacy in the AIADMK continued in Tamil Nadu.
Sasikala, 59, was sent to the women's cell in the Central Jail soon after she arrived Bengaluru in a convoy of cars from Chennai after the Supreme Court rejected her plea for more time to surrender.
A prison official told journalists that the long-time confidante of late Tamil Nadu chief minister, J. Jayalalithaa, who passed on away on Dec. 5, 2016, is expected to make candles in jail.
Sasikala surrendered to the trial court set up in the prison along with her sister-in-law Elavarasi and nephew V.N. Sudhakaran, all of whom were found guilty on Feb. 14, along with the late Jayalalithaa, by the apex court of having assets disproportionate to their known sources of income.
All four were lodged in the same prison for three weeks starting Sept. 27, 2014, after the trial court sentenced them. They later received bail from the Karnataka High Court.
Even at the prison, where police and AIADMK activists scuffled, Sasikala sought more time to begin serving the jail term but the judge rejected her request and told her to undergo a health check-up.
The trial court was set up in the jail complex because the civil court complex in Bengaluru is in a congested area and could have faced law and order issues due to the high-profile nature of the case.
In Chennai, Governor C. Vidyasagar Rao prepared to invite acting Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam as well as pro-Sasikala AIADMK leader E. Palanisamy to find out who has majority support among party MLAs.
Before leaving Chennai, Sasikala visited the Marina Beach memorial of Jayalalithaa. Hitting the floor three times with her right hand, she pledged to return to politics after defeating the "betrayers" in the AIADMK.
She later went to the late AIADMK founder M.G. Ramachandran's house at Ramavaram and paid her respects before his picture and also meditated for some time.
At both places, hundreds of supporters gathered, most of them looking grim.
Once the Supreme Court held Sasikala guilty of corruption on Feb. 14, the MLAs who backed Sasikala, and who were housed in a guest house the court, elected Palanisamy as their new legislature party leader.
On Feb. 15, Panneerselvam aides claimed he had the support of some 40 of the 135 AIADMK legislators but Palanisamy said he had adequate legislative backing to form a government.
Earlier, police registered a first information report against Sasikala and Palanisamy after AIADMK MLA S.S. Saravanan accused them of abducting him. The party denied the charge.
Saravanan, a legislator from the Madurai South constituency, filed the abduction complaint against Sasikala and Public Works Minister Palanisamy.
Saravanan told the media that on Feb. 13 he scaled a wall at the resort where he was held in Koovathur, 90 km from Chennai, and jumped down to escape.
On Feb. 14. after his complaint, hundreds of police personnel in riot gear were sent to the resort.
"Saravanan's complaint is totally false. He himself had told police a couple of days back that he is staying at the resort on his own will," an AIADMK MLA Inbadurai told reporters.
The legislators at the resort have switched off their phone lines and some are not answering their calls or are cutting them if they are from the media.
They said they would vacate the resort if Palanisamy told them to do so, or if he were called to form a government.