Experts say that it is certain that Sasikala has support within the AIADMK cadre.

New Delhi: As V.K. Sasikala, who returned to Chennai after serving four years of imprisonment in a corruption case, announced that she will actively participate in Tamil Nadu politics, the state may witness another political drama ahead of the Assembly elections. Political experts believe that the AIADMK and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami have to find a solution to neutralize Sasikala’s influence in the state politics. Sasikala, a close confidante of former Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa, was imprisoned in a Bengaluru jail in a corruption case four years ago. After release from jail, the expelled AIADMK leader received a grand reception from her supporters in Chennai on 8 February, with many waiting till the next day morning just to have a glimpse of her.
After release, Sasikala had contracted Covid-19 and was under treatment in a hospital in Bengaluru. She rode a vehicle sporting the AIADMK flag. R.K. Radhakrishnan, a senior journalist, told The Sunday Guardian, “There is a lot of uncertainty within the AIADMK itself and only three or four ministers have spoken against Sasikala. There are lot of moving parts between the AIADMK and AMMK in the fight for supremacy.”
Radhakrishnan added, “It will be clear only after some kind of survey among the people of Tamil Nadu. It is certain that Sasikala has support within the AIADMK cadre.” He further said, “It is not that people would wait for a leader till 5 or 6 am; so it is sure that the AIADMK cadre do support Sasikala.”
Savukku Shankar, a political commentator, told The Sunday Guardian, “Some allege that the reception given to Sasikala was arranged. Though it may be organised, the general public thronged the highway to have a glimpse of her. The words during her journey in a public rally that she will take part in active politics convey a lot. Sasikala has a lot of scores to settle with her own party members than in the DMK. After the announcement of election notification, she might take some drastic steps.”
Radhakrishnan said, “Current status-quo does not help the AIADMK. If this continues till the elections, then the AIADMK would lose a significant number of seats.” Pointing to the number of seats that the AIADMK won in the 2016 Assembly elections, Radhakrishnan said, “As many as 34 seats had witnessed a close fight between the AIADMK and the DMK in the last Assembly elections. In these 34 seats, the AIADMK’s winning margin was around 1%. If the current status-quo continues, then the AIADMK may lose these seats in the election. So, it is important to neutralize Sasikala either by joining hands with her or by some other method.”
Talking about the BJP mediating between the AIADMK and Sasikala, Shankar told The Sunday Guardian, “We cannot rule out that process. The BJP is watching all the political parties’ movement in Tamil Nadu.”