Action comes ahead of Sasikala’s release from prison.

 

Chennai: It was a telling picture just before V.K. Sasikala, former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa’s (Amma) “aide and companion”, vowed to take revenge at the latter’s samadhi. She was leaving for Bengaluru’s Parappana Agrahara Jail to serve her prison term after her conviction in the DA case as accused number 2 after Amma.

Perhaps this was one of the greatest slips between the cup and the lip in modern history. She was at the cusp of taking over the reins of AIADMK, Tamil Nadu government and inheriting Amma’s legacy in 2017, when the law caught up with her in her disproportionate assets case and the Supreme Court, which had reserved the verdict for over a year, decided to pronounce the verdict. It was at this juncture that the course of Tamil Nadu history changed forever.

Cut to 2020. The entire Mannargudi family and a section of Tamil Nadu politicians and electorate are anticipating with great anxiety the “grand” release of Sasikala from prison in January 2021. It might be recalled here that the RK Nagar bypoll, a seat which was home to Jayalalithaa, was won easily by Sasikala’s nephew, T.T.V. Dinakaran in 2017, sending a strong statement that they can’t be ruled out or rooted out.

Tamil Nadu politics has always witnessed high voltage drama with twists and turns, so much so that it can give a run for money to any political potboiler. This time around the release of Sasikala will set the stage for her comeback, however, the way things are unfolding around Sasikala, one should not be surprised if her stint ends soon!

The Income Tax proceedings against Sasikala have started to gain steam in the last three months and this comes at a time when she is expected to come out of the prison after serving 4 years in a disproportionate assets case. But her prison term comes to an end only if she pays a fine of Rs 10 crore or else her jail term will be extended by another year.

Sasikala’s advocate, Raja Senthoorpandian has said that they are ready to pay the court fine and are expecting her early release as per the Karnataka Prison remission rules.

In November 2017, the Income Tax department carried out massive raids at 180 places including Jayalaithaa’s Poes Garden residence and the places which now belong to Sasikala and her relatives. In the raids that lasted more than three days, the tax sleuths unearthed property documents to the tune of Rs 1,400 crore. Since then the IT department has started attaching several properties worth thousands of crores belonging to Sasikala and her family members and some even benami.

Based on the documents seized during the raids in 2017, the IT department found that Sasikala amassed wealth and purchased several properties using demonetised currencies to the tune of more than Rs 1,600 crore. It attached all the properties bought with the demonetised currency, in 2019.

The IT proceedings gained steam in 2020 and 65 properties with Rs 300 crore including the Poes Garden site, which is right opposite to Jayalalithaa’s lavish “Veda Nilayam” property, was attached by the IT department. Interestingly, the seized property was chosen to build a residence for Sasikala when she returns from prison. Now, when she returns Sasikala will be forced to stay away from Poes Garden, from where Jayalalithaa and Sasikala controlled AIADMK for decades.

Earlier this week, the IT department provisionally attached two properties valued more than Rs 2,000 crore belonging to Sasikala and her nephew Sudhakaran. This includes 11 acres in Siruthavur where Jayalalithaa used to spend time and 906 acres of tea estate in Kodanadu in Nilgiris district.

Questioning the timing of the IT proceedings, political analysts say that this might exert pressure on Sashikala and her relatives in the run-up to the elections and the recent developments are due to the fallout of T.T.V. Dinakaran’s unscheduled chartered flight trips to Delhi. Sources also say that Dinakaran stayed in Karnataka for reasons other than visiting Sasikala at the jail.