Tamil Nadu is all set to get a woman chief minister for the third time with Sasikala Natarajan being elected as the AIADMK's legislative party leader. Amid severe criticisms from many quarters, Sasikala, already the general secretary of the AIADMK is likely to be sworn in as Tamil Nadu's chief minister. While some are questioning her political standing to be CM, others time and refer to criminal cases against her and her infamous 'Mannargudi family'.
Bharatiya janata Party Member of Parliament Subramanian Swamy for the first time referred to Sasikala's family as the 'Mannargudi mafia', and now the name is on the minds and tongues of most in Tamil Nadu. The family is on its way to becoming the 'first family' of the state. While the opposition is just one hurdle for Sasikala, cases against her are the real challenge. We give you details of what she and her family members are accused of.
Sasikala in legal soup
The latest order of the Madras high court striking down her discharge in a Foreign Exchange Regulation Act case now forces Sasikala to face trial. The Enforcement Directorate, in the two-decade-old cases has accused Sasikala of violating the act and had arrested her in 1996 for the same. While a lower court discharged her from three cases, the Madras high court earlier this year quashed the discharge. The cases pertain to now-defunct channel JJTV's foreign currency transactions.
Her alleged partner in crime, foemr Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa may have passed on, but the ghost of disproportionate assets case continues to haunt Sasikala. An appeal by the Karnataka government against their acquittal by the state's high court is now pending in the Apex court.
The 20-year-old DA case pertains to the alleged amassing of wealth to the tune of Rs 66 crore by Jayalalithaa, during her first term in power between 1991 and 1996. The prosecution alleges that Jayalalithaa amassed assets in her name and in the name of co-accused Sasikala, her sister-in-law J Ilavarasi, and nephew VN Sudhakaran.
Sasikala's husband M Natarajan and cases against him
Credited with being the brain behind Sasikala, her husband Natarajan was ousted from the Poes Garden residence by Jayalalithaa in 1990, while Sasikala continued to live there. Now, with Jayalalithaa gone, he is slowing making his presence felt in the political circles. In February 2012, Natarajan was arrested for a land-grabbing case. He was accused of grabbing 20 acres of agricultural land in a village in Thanjavur.
In yet another case that was withdrawn later, Natarajan was accused of land grabbing and criminal intimidation from the same village in Thanjavur.
Divaharan, Sasikala's brother is also an accused
Meet the 'boss' of the Mannargudi family and Sasikala's brother. Divaharan was accused of demolishing the house of a DMK supporter in Tiruvarur in 2012 and was arrested. What caught the eye of observers was the fact that his arrest came weeks after Jayalalithaa expelled Sasikala and her family members from the AIADMK. He is also an accused in illegal sand quarrying cases. Divaharan faced arrested yet again in 2013 after he was accused of land grabbing in Tiruvarur.
Her nephew has faced ED's wrath:
Sasikala's Nephew and former member of parliament from the AIADMK, Dinakaran is also an accused in a FERA case. In 1996, the Enforcement directorate found him guilty of money laundering and involving in Benami transactions. In January this year, the Madras high court had upheld the ED tribunal's order asking him to pay a penalty of Rs 25 crore.
The ED had booked him under FERA after huge sums of money were deposited into his bank account between the years 1991-1996, coinciding with Jayalalithaa's first term as chief minister. Dinakaran had claimed that he was a Singapore citizen and hence his transactions did not fall under the ambit of the ED.
TTV Bhaskaran also accused in a FERA case
Like his brother Dinakaran, TTV Bhaskaran is also accused in a FERA case. As managing director of the now-defunct JJTV, Bhaskaran allegedly made illegal payments of $500,000 (approximately Rs 3.35 crore) to an American company. He was also arrested in 2013 for allegedly cheating a woman of Rs 3 lakh after promising her a job as a government school teacher.
Extortion allegations against R Ravanan
A distant relative but a close aide, Ravanan is the son-in-law of Sasikala's uncle. He was arrested in Coimbatore in January 2012 on charges of abduction for ransom, extortion, and criminal conspiracy and now manages Jayalalithaa's Kodanadu estate at the Nilgiris district in Tamil Nadu.
The family has a history that has become an eyesore for the people of Tamil Nadu. While people close to Sasikala maintain that she has kept her family away from party and politics, the alleged criminal ways of the Mannargudi family has become a cause of concern.