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Assets case cost Jaya-Sasikala their friendship?

Last updated on: December 22, 2011 15:49 IST

Assets case cost Jaya-Sasikala their friendship?

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Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam supremo J Jayalalithaa may have snapped her friendship with Sasikala Natarajan and expelled her from the party because of the Rs 66 crore misappropriate assets case in which the two are accused. Vicky Nanjappa reports

In a move that sent shockwaves within political circles, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam supremo J Jayalalithaa expelled close associate Sasikala Natarajan from the party on Tuesday. This dramatic development has sent rumour mills abuzz with varied reports in the media analysing the reason behind this split.

Many say that Sasikala was asked to leave because of developments in the ongoing Rs 66 crore disproportionate assets case against Jayalalithaa in a Bengaluru court. Sasikala is a co-accused in the case, which says that the two amassed wealth together. However, there is also speculation that the Tamil Nadu CM snapped her almost 30-year-old friendship with Sasikala owing to recent political developments in the party.

During Jayalalithaa's last appearance in court in November she was accompanied by Saskikala. Today, speculation is rife that Sasikala may have mentioned something in court, which was not in the interest of the Tamil Nadu CM and this even lead to a fallout.

But, this situation could not have risen since Sasikala has not yet deposed before the court. It is only Jayalalithaa whose statements were recorded.

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Image: Jayalalitha arrives with Sasikala Natarajan and an unidentified woman at a polling booth in Chennai in this May 10, 2001 picture
Photographs: Reuters

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Assets case cost Jaya-Sasikala their friendship?

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A close look at statements made by Jayalalithaa in court indicates that she may have spoken contrary to Sasikala's interest. When questions pertaining to the seized jewellery were asked, Jayalalithaa made it clear that it is not correct to come to the conclusion that all the wealth belonged to her alone. "The jewels, which have been seized, belong not only to me, but also to Sasikala and some members of her household. However the jewels have been valued in toto and this is not right," she is understood to have told the court.

Regarding the companies in question, she told the court that she was a dormant partner and it would not be correct to put the entire onus on her. There was also a question relating to the marriage of her foster son TV Sudhakaran in 1996. She said that the expenses were not borne by her, but the family of Sivaji Ganesan, the grandfather of the bride.

On the face of it, it does appear that Jayalalithaa was shifting the blame on Sasikala. However, this is not how any of the legal experts would look at the statements. For starters, Jayalalithaa's deposition is based on her written statements. If she diverts from the written statement, the court has the authority to pull her up for it.


Image: Jayalalitha leaves a court in the Chennai on February 2, 2000 with Sasikala
Photographs: Reuters

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Assets case cost Jaya-Sasikala their friendship?

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Legal experts say it would be insensible on part of Jayalalithaa or Sasikala to vent their anger against each other during a deposition if it is contrary to their earlier statements.

Jayalalithaa's statements aim to point out that it is unfair to put the entire onus on her. If all the assets seized were to be valued, it does amount to disproportionate assets. However, only if wealth belonging to her is valuated separately then a case disproportionate assets cannot be made out.

She was a successful actor prior to taking up politics and she can prove to the court that the assets seized by the police, which belong to her, were attained during her career in the film business. Hence her statements before the court are not aimed against Sasikala but against the investigating agency. She seeks a directive from the court to probe into these assets individually and not in toto, say insiders.

It does appear that differences between Jayalalithaa and Sasikala surfaced less than three weeks ago. Those who were present in the court during their appearances in November say that there were extremely cordial and there was no tension between the two. They greeted each other before and after the proceedings and there was no indication that the two were headed for a split, said witnesses who attended the proceeding that were barred the media.


Image: Jayalalithaa with Sasikala at a wedding reception


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