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Jayalalithaa death probe: Arumughasawamy report sets political ball rolling

A “fair” enquiry into the mystery behind Jaya’s death was one of DMK’s poll promises

32-Sasikala-and-Jayalalithaa V.K. Sasikala and J. Jayalalithaa | R.G. Sasthaa

Almost six years after the death of former Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalithaa, the Justice Arumughasawamy commission report probing into her death has once again turned the focus on to the politics around it. The commission recommending “a government inquiry” into the role of Jayalalithaa’s close aide V.K. Sasikala and three others has set the political ball rolling.

The Justice Arumughaswamy panel constituted by the then AIADMK government to probe into the death of former chief minister Jayalalithaa on Saturday submitted a voluminous report to Chief Minister M.K. Stalin. The report was tabled for discussion during the cabinet meeting on Monday, following which the government has decided to consult legal experts on the commission’s recommendation. The commission has recommended an inquiry against Sasikala, then health minister C. Vijayabaskar, then Chief Secretary P. Rama Mohana Rao, and Jayalalithaa’s physician Dr K.S. Sivakumar. While the report is yet to be made public, DMK’s decision to consult legal experts, by naming four people including a former bureaucrat and a former minister, has created furore in Tamil Nadu’s political circles.

In fact, a “fair” enquiry into the mystery behind Jayalalithaa’s death was one of DMK’s poll promises in 2021. But the government’s decision to seek expert opinion on the commission’s recommendations to probe the role of Sasikala and others has only exposed DMK’s intention to politicise the issue, say Sasikala supporters. Sources close to Sasikala say that the government chose to name a select few in its press note, from the commission’s report, to make political gains. At a time when the AIADMK is undergoing a leadership tussle with Edappadi K. Palanisami and O. Panneerselvam fighting for power, a probe will only spoil the prospects of the factions coming together.

Incidentally, O. Panneerslevam had said that he himself will call Sasikala, if situation warrants, to ensure a unified AIADMK. Sasikala’s nephew T.T.V. Dhinakaran too had welcomed OPS’s statement and said that his offer of “working together” was a good idea to prosper. Meanwhile, EPS has rejected the idea of coming together and called OPS a “betrayer.”

While Sasikala was her close aide, former chief secretary Rama Mohan Rao also played a role in ensuring that a team of doctors from AIIMS and doctors from foreign countries came down to treat Jayalalithaa. And Vijayabhaskar is also said to have supervised the treatment given to her. Apparently, Vijayabhaskar’s role in switching off the CCTV cameras at Apollo hospitals, sources say, was also questioned by the probe commission. And, Dr K.S. Shivakumar, Sasikala’s relative and Jayalalithaa’s personal physician, was also the person who knew about the medical condition of Jayalalithaa before her admission to the hospital.

While the AIIMS panel report released a few weeks ago, said that Jayalalithaa’s death was "natural" and there were "no errors in the treatment" given to Jayalalithaa, the commission’s report and recommendations have stirred up political controversies in Tamil Nadu. 

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