- On Wednesday, after serving 4 years in jail after she was convicted in a disproportionate asset case, V K Sasikala has been released from the prison
- A lot has changed over the years when V K Sasikala was serving her jail sentence
- But what is next for Sasikala? The question that has been rising in Tamil Nadu as the assembly election are round the corner and Sasikala has been an important part of TN politics for over 3 decades
The imprisonment of V K Sasikala in the disproportionate wealth case came to an end on Wednesday. However, it will take a few more days for Sasikala to reach Chennai, since she is being treated for Covid-19 at Victoria hospital in Bangluru.
But what’s next for Sasikala, the question that Tamil Nadu is asking? A lot changed in the years when J Jayalalithaa’s confidante was in jail. Rebel leader O Panneerselvam, who was removed from the CM post by Sasikala before going to jail, has returned to the AIADMK. And Edappadi K Palaniswami, the Chief Minister she handpicked, had joined hands with the ‘betrayer’ Panneerselvam and expelled her from the top post of the party, leaving her no place to return, even though she commanded tremendous respect as the proxy of J Jayalalithaa for about three decades.
According to her close aides and relatives, who had negotiated with different political camps prior to her release, there are now only a few options left for Sasikala.
Option 1: Rejoin AIADMK
An obvious choice is to rejoin AIADMK by reaching an agreement with Panneerselvam and Palaniswami. A senior AIADMK leader close to both Palaniswami and Sasikala said, “The aim was to let them run the government when Sasikala took over the party’s leadership. But Palaniswami was not ready for this because he feared that if AIADMK was defeated in the Assembly polls, he would be forced to operate under Sasikala in the party.”
Option 2: As an ally, AIADMK gets AMMK
The alliance with AMMK, the party established by Sasikala’s nephew TTV Dhinakaran after her ouster from AIADMK, could be a choice, multiple sources in the AIADMK said. This is after Palaniswami ruled out chances of Sasikala’s return to the AIADMK fold. There are several senior AIADMK leaders who support this proposal, but public statements are yet to be made in this respect.
There are reasons for both parties to do this: the plan could help AMMK survive and even eventually re-enter the party; and for AIADMK, at a time when DMK seems to have an advantage as a dominant opposition with strong allies, it could boost their chances in the upcoming Assembly elections.
Choice 3: AMMK leads a third front
Going by the latest trends, what is likely to happen is that AMMK will form a third front in the election to defeat AIADMK. Dhinakaran’s AMMK won about 4 percent of the voting share in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, which is about 15 percent of the AIADMK votes.
Insiders who are in contact with both AIADMK and AMMK said that the group will form the third front, most likely to counter the “betrayers” in AIADMK this time around. “The third front was formed last time (2016) by Sasikala to fight the opposition by splitting anti-government votes. This time, pro-government votes will be divided by the AMMK-led third front,” a senior AIADMK leader said.
Among the other parties who could be joining the third front in such a scenario are S Ramadoss’ PMK and Captain Vijayakanth’s DMDK. Any disputes or conflicts in the DMK alliance over seat-sharing may also help this third front attract more allies.
The entire party will finally come under Sasikala’s influence if AIADMK is defeated in the election. The party has no absolute power over either Palaniswami or Panneerselvam. To run a government, they only have ministers and MLAs with them,” a source close to the Sasikala family claimed.”
Choice 4: Sasikala withdraws from politics
There are also people who say that Sasikala might not make a comeback, but will do what Rajinikanth did, citing health reasons reasons for calling off her political plans. Sasikala, compared to Rajinikanth, has more credible health reasons for staying away from politics.
Yet people who have been working closely with her believe that she won’t give up. Know, at the Jayalalithaa memorial, she made a vow, thumping the ground thrice before she was imprisoned.