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Sasikala fate hinges on make-or-mar SC verdict

The all-important Supreme Court verdict, which will decide the future of AIADMK supremo VK Sasikala, locked in a battle for chief ministership with O Pannerselvam, is set to be pronounced today.

The make-or-mar judgement for Sasikala in the disproportionate assets case is likely to be delivered at 10:30 am, according to the Supreme Court cause list of cases to be taken up by it on Tuesday.

The bench of Justices P C Ghose and Amitava Roy will pass its order on a batch of appeals, including the one filed by the Karnataka government acquitting the main accused in the case, former Tamil Nadu chief minister the late J Jayalalithaa and three others, including Sasikala.

Since Jayalalithaa is dead, the case against her would be abated. The other accused in the case are Sasikala's relatives V N Sudhakaran and Elavarasi. All four had been convicted by the trial court but acquitted by the Karnataka High Court.

The political future of Sasikala, a long-time friend of Jayalalithaa, would entirely hinge on the Supreme Court judgement.

Sasikala, who was elected AIADMK legislature party leader on February five, will be rendered ineligible for contesting an assembly election in the event of conviction, thereby stifling her ambition of becoming the Chief Minister.

The information about the likely Supreme Court order came on a day Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi advised Governor C Vidyasagar Rao to hold a special session of the state assembly within a week for a floor test to ascertain who between Sasikala and caretaker Chief Minister O Panneerselvam enjoys majority support of AIADMK MLAs.

If the Governor, who has kept his cards close to chest since last Thursday, the day Sasikala staked claim to form the government, goes by the AG's advice, the dispute between the rival AIADMK factions would be decided on the floor of the House.

The Governor can also swear in Sasikala without the assembly having to go through the rigour of a floor test as she has already been elected the AIADMK legislature party leader.

Panneerselvam's revolt notwithstanding, she enjoys the support of an overwhelming majority of party MLAs, six of whom have shifted their loyalty to the caretaker Chief Minister.

Pannerselvam also has the backing of 11 MPs, including two of the Rajya Sabha.

The Tamil Nadu government on Monday informed the Madras High Court, hearing habeas corpus petitions seeking production of two MLAs who were said to be lodged at a resort on Chennai's outskirts that apart from them 119 legislators kept there have recorded their statements saying they have not been illegally detained.

Tamil Nadu has a 234-member assembly and Sasikala looks set for a facile victory in a floor test, but an adverse court verdict can put paid to her chief ministerial
ambition.

AIADMK general secretary VK Sasikala said on Monday evening that she and her MLAs, staying at a resort at Koovathur, will leave the place "happily" on Tuesday after the Supreme Court pronounces its verdict on the disproportionate assets case in which she is an accused.
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