Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami inaugurates the Jayalalithaa memorial on the day the former Chief Minister’s aide Sasikala is released from jail

Published : January 27, 2021 15:48 IST

AIADMK party cadre at the inauguration ceremony of the memorial for J. Jayalalithaa in Chennai on January 27. Photo: ARUN SANKAR/AFP

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami (second from right) with Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam (second from left) and Tamil Nadu Assembly Speaker P. Dhanapal (extreme right) inaugurating the memorial for Jayalalithaa in Chennai on January 27. Photo: RAGU R.

In a solemn ceremony, Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami, in the presence of Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam and fellow Ministers, threw open the “phoenix” themed Jayalalithaa memorial at the Marina beach in Chennai on January 27. The inauguration happened to coincide with the formal release of Jayalalithaa’s aide, V.K. Sasikala, from the Parappanna Agrahara Jail, Bengaluru, where she was serving a four-year sentence.

Sasikala, who took over the reins of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) soon after the demise of the party supremo and Chief Minister Jayalalithaa in December 2016, was removed from her position soon after she was jailed in February 2017. Sasikala continues to wield influence within the party and the Chief Minister seems to have organised the inauguration of the memorial to prevent party cadre from rushing to Bengaluru to welcome her on her release. In a tweet, the AIADMK thanked the cadre who turned up for the event. “For the people of Tamil Nadu, Puratchi Thalaivi Amma [Jayalalithaa] served like a mother would serve a child.”

The Chief Minister has vowed to win the 2021 Legislative Assembly elections for “Amma” [Jayalalithaa]. He has repeatedly stated that Sasikala was not part of the AIADMK and would have no role in the party.

Palaniswami made it clear that the opening of the memorial was a show of strength on the day of Sasikala’s release by ordering thousands of party cadre to congregate in Chennai. The irony is that, citing the Coronavirus pandemic, the public were not allowed to witness the Republic Day parade on January 26 along the Marina beach. Just a day later, thousands of AIADMK members choked all the roads leading to the Jayalalithaa memorial. Only a few were seen wearing masks.

In Bengaluru, the prison authorities informed the hospital where Sasikala was being treated for COVID-19 that she had been released as of 11 a.m. on January 27. A medical bulletin issued by the hospital on January 27 said that she was asymptomatic but her discharge from hospital was not recommended at this stage. The prison authorities withdrew the personnel who were guarding her. Now, a few Karnataka police personnel have been posted as a cautionary measure.

As if on cue, IT cells loyal to Sasikala began trending #TNwelcomeChinnamma on Twitter. Speaking to the press, T.T.V. Dinakaran (a nephew of Sasikala),who floated the Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK) after he parted ways with the AIADMK, said: “Sasikala is coming back. Soon there will be Amma’s government in Tamil Nadu.”

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