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Expelled AIADMK MP Sasikala Pushpa joins BJP ahead of TN Assembly polls next year

New Delhi: Rajya Sabha MP from Tamil Nadu Sasikala Pushpa, who was expelled from the AIADMK in 2016, joined the ruling BJP on Sunday in the presence of the party's national secretary, P Muralidhar Rao, and former Union minister Pon Radhakrishnan.

Inducting Sasikala into the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at a press conference here, Rao, who is the party's in-charge for the southern state, described her as a "very aggressive, vocal leader in Tamil Nadu".

"Sasikala is a Rajya Sabha member and she has been a very aggressive, vocal leader in Tamil Nadu. Coming from south Tamil Nadu, she has also been a mayor of Thoothukudi, a port town, and has worked as the chief of the AIADMK's women's wing for the state," he said. Sasikala's tenure in the Upper House of Parliament will come to an end in a few months. She was involved in an altercation with a DMK MP in 2016 and was accused of slapping him. Subsequently, the then AIADMK supremo and former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa had expelled her from the party. At the press conference at the BJP office here, Rao made the announcement of Pushpa's joining and said: "With the joining of Sasikala, the party's capacity to fight the coming Assembly election will definitely gain further advantage," he said.

BJP's decision to induct Sasikala into the party highlights its efforts to strengthen its base in Tamil Nadu, ahead of the Assembly polls in the southern state next year.

Despite its rise across the country under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the saffron party has been unable to make much of a mark in the Dravidian state so far. "In Tamil Nadu, the BJP is gaining in strength day by day. Our membership and penetration have increased in every district of the state. The appeal of Modi is enhancing the party's spread."

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