AIADMK General Secretary VK Sasikala on Thursday watched on television K. Palaniswami taking oath as the new Chief Minster of Tamil Nadu at Raj Bhavan in Chennai from the Central Jail on the city’s southern outskirts, said sources.
“Sasikala watched live Palaniswami and 30 lawmakers taking oath as the Chief Minister and Cabinet ministers in the prison’s woman barracks, along with her sister-in-law Elavarasi and other inmates,” a jail official told IANS on the condition of anonymity.
Sasikala, 60, Elavarasi and her nephew V.K. Sudhakaran returned to the prison on Wednesday and surrendered to resume the four-year term they were sentenced to after being held guilty of corruption in the two-decades old illegal assets case.
The main convict — late Tamil Nadu J. Jayalalathaa — passed away on December 5 after a prolonged illness in a private hospital in Chennai.
“Palanaswami is likely to visit the prison on Friday along with his cabinet colleagues to take blessings of Chinnamma (Sasikala) before assuming charge,” party’s Karnataka unit Secretary V.A. Pugazhendi told reporters here.
Police stepped up security and put up barricades outside the jail complex at Parapanna Agrahara area to prevent the ruling party’s factions from crowding and causing law and order problem.
“In view of Wednesday’s clashes between the cadres of the party’s two factions when Sasikala came from Chennai by road, we have decided to restrict the entry of people to the prison to prevent any untoward incident,” said a police official.
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.
“When Elavarasi cajoled her to have food in view of her weak health, she took rice with sambar and butter milk,” recalled the jail source.
The judge (Ashwath Narayana) also rejected Sasikala’s request for a special room for prayers and yoga, A-class facilities and an attached toilet-cum-bathroom. She was given a plate, a tumbler and a blanket.
Before entering the cell, she deposited her valuables at the counter and recorded the three weeks she spent in the prison in 2014, as per the procedure.
Expressing anguish over her plight and harsh conditions in which women inmates live in prisons, Pugazhendi said Sasikala woke up early (5 a.m.), did yoga and walked in the barracks for a while.
“She also read a couple of Tamil newspapers, had tamarind rice for breakfast at 7.30 a.m. and a frugal meal (sambar rice) for lunch at 12.30,” said Pugazhendi.
Sasikala surrendered before the trial court here on Wednesday evening and entered the jail premises before 6 p.m after the Supreme Court declined her plea for more time to give herself up.