Chennai: VK Sasikala watched Edappadi Palaniswami, the man she handpicked for the CM post, take oath as the new Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu on television at the women’s barracks of a Bengaluru prison on Thursday. Watching the oath ceremony with the AIADMK chief was her sister-in-law Ilavarasi, also convicted for corruption in the same case as Ms Sasikala, and other inmates.
Mr Palaniswami, who will seek a vote of confidence in the Tamil Nadu legislature on Saturday, is expected to visit the Bengaluru jail either on Sunday or Monday to meet Ms Sasikala, whose chief ministerial aspirations were crushed by the Supreme Court verdict earlier this week.
Returning to the jail after 21-day stay from September 27 to October 18, 2014, as the apex court Tuesday upheld their conviction by the trial court, Sasikala had a hard time in the cell as she could not sleep and was said to be restless at night.
“Chinnamma could not sleep well and was restless as she had to lie down on the floor in a 10×8 feet cell in the women’s barracks after jail officials denied her request for a mattress,” lamented Pugazhendi earlier in the day.
As the trial court denied Sasikala’s demand for some privileges, including home food, she refused to have supper on Wednesday though she was served two rotis, one ragi ball, 200 gm rice and 150 gm sambar (lentil) like all other inmates.
E Palaniswami, fiercely loyal to the party chief is seen as her proxy and many expect Ms Sasikala to have control of both the party and the government from jail – before she left Chennai she also appointed her nephew TTV Dinakaran as the ruling AIADMK’s deputy chief.
The new chief minister and the ruling party’s other legislators are back at a five-star resort as Mr Palaniswami guards his flock before tomorrow’s trust vote. He has to prove the support of at least 117 legislators on the floor of the 234-member assembly.
Team Sasikala, triumphant at having been invited to form government, has indicated that all members of the rival O Panneerselvam camp are welcome back into the party fold except former chief minister O Panneerselvam himself, who has been branded a “traitor” for rebelling against Ms Sasikala and challenging her for the post of chief minister.
Mr Panneerselvam too had staked claim to form government but could not convince more than a handful of legislators to cross over to his side. He has said he will continue fighting Ms Sasikala and her family, who had been banished by Amma or J Jayalalithaa, the party’s powerful leader who died in December as chief minister.