Use of flag raises question on Sasikala-AIADMK ties

The presence of the AIADMK flag on the car used by V.K. Sasikala, the party’s former interim general secretary and aide of former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, in Bengaluru on Sunday, has raised a question about her ties with the party.

Law Minister C.Ve. Shanmugam asserted that Sasikala does not have locus standi to use the flag as she is no longer a member of the party.

“We threw them [Sasikala and her nephew T.T.V. Dhinakaran] out of the party at the general council meeting held in September 2017. The two had approached the courts to establish their claim over the party but only suffered setbacks,” he said.

The “only relief” that the two got from the Madras High Court in November 2017 was to inspect the statement of accounts submitted by three banks in which the party held current accounts. “Actually, the case should have been transferred to a city civil court in the wake of the changed legal position on petitions whose valuation is less than ₹1 crore. As it has been established in the appropriate judicial forums that our camp [led by Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami and Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam] alone represents the AIADMK, neither she nor Mr. Dhinakaran is a member of the party,” he contends.

Quoting by-laws of the party, the Minister argues that those who challenge the party’s actions in a court of law automatically forfeit their membership of the party.

However, C.R. Saraswathi, propaganda secretary of the AMMK, led by Mr. Dhinakaran, recalls an observation of the Madras High Court in September 2017 that any order passed at the general council meeting would be subject to the outcome of the appeal against the dismissal of former legislator P. Vetrivel’s application for an injunction against the meeting. But Mr. Shanmugam argued that with the death of Vetrivel, the proceedings themselves have abated.

Disputing the Minister’s version about Sasikala’s position, Ms. Saraswathi said, “Chinnamma [Sasikala] was not expelled from the party even at the meeting held by the rival camp. So, she continues to be a member.” The original constitution of the AIADMK did not envisage the abolition of the post of general secretary and the creation of the positions of coordinator and co-coordinator, she explains. Besides, according to her, Sasikala was elected general secretary at the general council meeting in December 2016 “in a proper manner”.

When asked whether the use of the AIADMK flag on Sasikala’s car means the AMMK hasn’t been taken cognisance of, she noted that Mr. Dhinakaran said the AMMK was founded only to “retrieve the AIADMK”.

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