Former CM's aide Sasikala chooses Jayalalithaa's birthday to return to Poes Garden

Poes Garden has been the seat of power in Tamil Nadu’s politics since the 1970s

V.K. Sasikala and J. Jayalalithaa (File) V.K. Sasikala and J. Jayalalithaa (right) | R.G. Sasthaa

Former Chief Minister and AIADMK leader Jayalalithaa’s close aide and ousted party leader V.K. Sasikala is all set to move into her new abode in Poes Garden, just opposite to Veda Nilayam, the former's residence.

While Jayalalithaa was the chief minister, the open plot across Veda Nilayam was used as a parking ground and as a short stay for her security guards. The space was also used by journalists who used to wait outside her residence for long hours.

The plot is registered in the name of Sri Harichandana Estates, a firm in which her relatives are part of. The construction of the house began soon after Sasikala was convicted by the Supreme Court and sent to jail in the Disproportionate Assets case, in which Jayalalithaa was the prime accused. 

Sasikala chose to develop the property as Jayalalithaa’s Veda Nilayam, where she lived for more than three decades with the former CM, was taken over by then AIADMK government led by Edappadi K. Palanisami to convert it into a memorial. 

Jayalalithaa’s house was locked immediately after Sasikala was lodged in Parapana Agrahara prison and her name was also removed from the voter list of Thousand Lights constituency. Veda Nilayam has witnessed multiple Income Tax raids, the state government's takeover, turning it into a memorial and then the legal fight between the government and Jayalalithaa’s relatives claiming rights. The Madras High Court later handed over the keys to Deepak and Deepa - Jayalalithaa’s nephew and niece. 

The construction of the house opposite Veda Nilayam also saw several hiccups as the then AIADMK government did not sanction approval. The Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) approved the plan to construct ground plus two floors and two dwelling units, only in 2019, in the run-up to the then Lok Sabha elections. The CMDA portfolio was then held by former Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam. Though Panneerselvam sanctioned approval for the building, the file was lying in then Chief Minister Palaniswami's office for several months, delaying the construction. 

Later, the Income Tax department attached the property alleging Sasikala and her relatives used demonetised currency to purchase it. Sasikala could not gain entry into Veda Nilayam even after she returned from prison in 2021. She chose to stay at a private property in T. Nagar. 

On January 25, Sasikala conducted the housewarming ceremony and will move into the house formally on February 24, on Jayalalithaa’s 76th birthday. The housewarming ceremony was a low-key affair and only close relatives of Sasikala were invitees. Sasikala’s move back into the Poes Garden area assumes significance as it had always been the seat of power in Tamil Nadu’s politics since the 1970s. 

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