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AIADMK Hunkers Down, Sets Eyes on 2021 Tamil Nadu Polls as it Readies for Sasikala’s Jail Release

Sasikala Natarajan was convicted and sentenced to four years in prison in the Disproportionate Assets (DA) case by the Supreme Court in 2017.

Sasikala Natarajan was convicted and sentenced to four years in prison in the Disproportionate Assets (DA) case by the Supreme Court in 2017.

AIADMK leaders met at the headquarters even as coronavirus cases kept at a steady rate in Chennai, hammering out a quick policy to stay united in the face of possible adversities and work towards winning the elections next year.

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Poornima Murali

Chennai: The AIADMK is assuming a posture of defense and discipline ahead of the return of Jayalalithaa’s trusted aide Sasikala from prison just a few months short of the four-year sentence for disproportionately amassing wealth.

Party leaders met at the headquarters even as coronavirus cases kept at a steady rate in Chennai, hammering out a quick policy to stay united in the face of possible adversities and work towards winning the elections next year. Should the AIADMK win again, it would be a hat-trick for the Amma-less party, but that would come to be only after a very tough fight by MK Stalin's DMK, which hasn't entered Fort St. George (TN's seat of power) as the ruling party for nearly a decade now. Clearly, the stakes are sky high.

In a short notice, party administrators O Panneerselvam and Edappadi Palaniswami said the party’s executive committee will meet on September 28.

According to party insiders, the return of VK Sasikala was discussed, but with an outlook that the storm that followed Jayalalithaa’s death is well-nigh past, and that the party has amassed strength and kept its ‘military discipline’ intact.

While the party toes an optimistic line, some fissures threaten to erupt. Even on Friday, OPS was hailed as the inheritor of J Jayalalithaa’s political legacy while Palaniswami was the ‘permanent’ CM candidate.

Just a few weeks back, the AIADMK found itself on the familiar ground of confusion: parry leaders were openly expressing their opinion on who should be the CM candidate. After what seemed like hush-hush parleys, it appeared like Panneerselvam was satisfied with the terms offered. According to insiders, the CM candidate for the forthcoming elections is a topic of great wrangle.

In the stormy days of February 2017, when VK Sasikala named Palaniswami as the chief minister, the latter was putty in her hands. He even did the customary prostration in front of her, a video clip the DMK has been leveraging to hilt.

Now, the big question would be how the AIADMK current leadership would react when Sasikala steps out of prison and makes overtures to her loyalists within the party. Friday’s meeting and import offer a hint: keep your head down and march forward.

It remains to be seen what strings VK Sasikala would pull once she is out. Meanwhile, the DMK is watching.


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