Kodanadu Mystery Deepens With Murder Of Jaya’s Driver

While the police realised that property papers worth hundred crores belonging to Jayalalithaa were missing from the estate, two main accused in the case met with accidents in two separate incidents on Saturday. While one died, the other is battling for life.

Chennai: After the death of Tamil Nadu former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu J Jayalalithaa, everything related to her is getting murkier. Properties worth crores of rupees seem to be falling into the hands of anonymous individuals.

The incident at Kodanadu estate, which was owned by J Jayalalitha not only shocked the public but also the police as well. On the night of April 23, some unknown assailants burnt away many documents relating to Jayalalithaa killing the security guard of the estate.

The police who were investigating the murder case at Kodanadu were startled when they discovered that three suitcases with documents of Jayalalithaa’s property worth crores were stolen from the estate.

Giving another twist to the whole episode, two main accused in the case met with separate accidents on Saturday.

A former employee at the estate and one of the accused in the case, Kanakaraj died in a car crash in Tamil Nadu’s Salem district. The second accused and his close aide, Sayan, met with a car accident in Kerala’s Palakkad district on the same day. He was travelling with his family. He died in the collision.

Meanwhile, the police have released a sketch of one of the assailants basing on the inputs from Krishna Bahadur, the other security guard who was injured in Kodanad estate attack.

These incidents took place a day after the Tamil Nadu police announced that they have solved the murder mystery. They named an ex-employee and Kerala-based Hawala operator for conspiring Kodanad estate murder.

While Kanakaraj worked as a driver at Jayalalithaa’s Kodanad tea estate, Sayan used to work in a bakery in Palakkad. Sayan lost both his wife and son in the accident and is battling for life in the hospital. Kanakaraj was earlier questioned by the police in connection with Jaya’s death. Jaya’s guard was killed on April 24.
With Sasikala and her nephew in jail at different locations, it is a mystery as to who is behind the series of murders and an apparent attempt to loot Jayalalithaa’s property worth crores of rupees.

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Kodanad Heist: Not For Documents, Say TN Police

The gang that participated in the attack on Jayalalithaa’s bungalow at Kodanad were looking for cash and not for any documents, say TN police.

Chennai: The speculations about the mysterious robbery at a bungalow belonging to late chief minister J Jayalalithaa in Kodanad was suspected for a possible ‘will’ that the departed leader might have left, turned out to be false. The police sources said that the preliminary investigations revealed that documents were not the target. The police came to this conclusion as the safe vault in the bungalow was not touched by the gang.

A senior police officer told a leading daily that the gang led by Kanagaraj which came for robbery was definitely looking for cash and not documents. As they could not find any cash, a fight broke out between them. It appears that Kanagaraj tricked the people into joining him by claiming that there will be a huge stash of cash inside the bungalow. When cash was not found, a quarrel broke out inside the mansion, he said.

These details were disclosed by the robbers who were arrested. One more person is to be arrested.

Incidentally, the main suspect Kanagaraj was killed in a road accident last Friday, while another suspect Sayan met with a mishap on early Saturday morning in Palakkad. He was driving from Coimbatore to Thrissur. As the accidents almost happened within a little time gap, conspiracy theories emerged. While the wife and daughter of Sayan were killed in the accident, Sayan is recuperating at a hospital. The probe team of police is waiting for Sayan to recover completely to record his statement.

Sayan, became a close associate of Kanagaraj when he worked in Ooty. With the close friendship they had, Kanagaraj and Sayan planned the heist. It was Sayan who mobilised a gang from Kerala for the operation.  As the members of the gang hailed from Kerala, they were not even aware that the bungalow belonged to Jayalalithaa, said sources. They were told that it belonged to an MLA.

Before they entered the bungalow on April 23 night, the gang performed a recce to check if there were any CCTV cameras installed in the premises. They did not believe Kanagaraj and wanted to check the number of guards also, according to sources. The police believe that they took only some wrist watches and crystal artefacts from the estate bungalow.

Still, conspiracy theorists are not ready to believe the police version, as the police department in Tamil Nadu is divided and some of the officers are  believed to be supporters of Sasikala faction.

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Sasikala Files Review Petition In SC

Sasikala Natarajan, AIADMK Amma) General Secretary, has filed review petition in the apex court arguing that anti-corruption law is not applicable in her case.

New Delhi: AIDMK leader Sasikala, who is in a Bengaluru jail, filed a review petition in Supreme Court on the verdict which found her guilty and sentenced for four years of imprisonment in graft case.

Along with Sasikala, Jayalalitha’s foster son, Sudhakaran and widow of Sasikala’s elder brother, Elavarsi, also filed review petitions challenging the decision of the trial court in Karnataka.

In the 19-year old Disproportionate Assets (DA) case, the trial court has convicted all the three along with late Jayalalitha.

Sasikala, who was in jail for the past 11 weeks, said in her petition that prevention of corruption law is not applicable to her as proceedings against Amma had ended due to her demise. Irrespective of court findings, she should be set free and let her go back to TN to run the party, Sasikala felt in her petition.

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Sasikala To Take Over As General Secretary of AIADMK

Chennai: Sasikala Natarajan will take over the reins of AIADMK on Saturday when she assumes office as General Secretary. She would be filling the place occupied by J Jayalalithaa for 28 years. Sasikala had lived with the former chief minister of Tamil Nadu for more than three decades.

Chief Minister O Panneerselvan gave Sasikala a letter at Poes Garden on Thursday stating that she was unanimously elected as General Secretary of the ruling party. OPS had maintained the same old demeanour with a face sans smile or expression while handing over the letter to Chinnamma, as Sasikala is popularly known. Whether Chinnamma would occupy the chair of Amma at the secretariat also by unseating the incumbent chief minister immediately or wait for some time is a matter of anybody’s guess.

There were violent scenes at the party headquarters the other day when Rajya Sabha Member Sasikala Pushpa’s husband Lingeswar was beaten up by Chinnamma’s followers when he tried to submit a nomination for the post of General Secretary.

CR Saraswati, a spokesperson of the AIADMK found fault with the comments passed by a Madras High Court judge suspecting the circumstances that led to the death of Jayalalithaa. She said the judge should have kept the feelings of the party workers while commenting on the demise of Amma. Saraswati asked why should the leaders of the AIADMK lie for 75 days about Anna’s death.  The judge said he also had some doubts about the way the treatment of Jayalalithaa was kept under wraps. ‘Why not the court order that the body be exhumed,’ he asked loudly.

Leaders of the opposition parties like Stalin, Vaigo and Ramdas also demanded that a commission be appointed to probe into the death of Purutchi Talaivi. They said the government of Tamil Nadu had announced the death and not the hospital. They demanded that the footage of the film taken at the hospital be released.

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Jaya communicates through gestures; sedation taken off

Chennai: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa is reportedly getting better by the day and she is able to communicate through gestures. The sedation has been stopped and she is even able to sit up for a while, according to reliable sources at Apollo Hospital where the chief minister was admitted on September 22.  

Respiratory support is continuing. Once the tracheotomy tube is removed, she will be able to communicate verbally. The team of doctors attending on her has been calibrating the dosage of medicines to tackle the issue of pulmonary edema. Fluid accumulation in the lungs has ceased, according to the sources. Prof Richard Beale, consultant intensive care, is expected to return on Sunday. People in their thousands have been continuing with their prayers for restoring health to their beloved leader.

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Illness legacy of Tamil Nadu CMs

Prabhakara Sarma

CHENNAI: The Tamil Nadu State looks rudderless with Chief Minister Jayalalithaa taking seriously ill and the administration left in the hands of bureaucracy.

In fact, such a situation is not uncommon to Tamil Nadu. The first non-Congress Chief Minister and founder of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), CN Annadurai, lay immobilised for long in 1969, leaving senior leaders like VR Nedunchezian, M Karunanidhi and MG Ramachandran a worried lot.

The situation was so bad that the death announcement of Annadurai in one morning left the people in Tamil Nadu shell-shocked. However, the news was immediately withdrawn. But Annadurai never really recovered and breathed his last a few days later.

His sudden demise led to a succession war between No 2 Nedunchezhian and No 3 Karunanidhi in the cabinet. The latter, however, managed to buy the support of legislators to become Chief Minister much to the chagrin of Nedunchezian.  After a lot of initial resistance, he finally rejoined the Cabinet.

Then there was MG Ramachandran who took ill during his tenure as Chief Minister. He stayed away from office for long and was treated in the US. His death in 1987 also led to an imbroglio in the State when his wife Janaki Ramachandran was made Chief Minister for a brief period.

Now jayalalithaa’s health is causing concern to the people in Tamil Nadu. Medical bulletins from Apollo Hospital where she has been undergoing treatment since September 22 stating “she is recovering” are hardly assuaging the feelings of Jayalalithaa’s millions of followers.

Quite a few, including her trusted lieutinent O Panneerselvam, are ready to hold the fort in her absence from office. But the people are praying for their beloved Chief Minister to recover and return to office as early as possible to put Tamil Nadu back on track.

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Rumours on Jaya’s Health

  • Governor reaching Chennai

Chennai: A veil of secrecy has fallen between Apollo hospital here and the public domain sending confusing signals about Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa.

Maharashtra Governor C Vidya Sagar Rao, who is holding additional charge after the retirement of K Rosaiah, is likely to fly to Chennai on Saturday afternoon.

Jayalalithaa has been suffering from acute diabetes and her two toes have already been removed.  She has been in comma for a couple of days. The health bulletins also were not issued for three days.

Observers are reminded of the past when MG Ramachandran, Jaya’s mentor and the then chief minister, died and his death was not announced for a number of hours. All kinds of rumours are making rounds now again. Security has been beefed at Apollo hospitals. The opposition DMK has been making huge notice about the chief minister’s health questioning the secrecy shrouding the CM.

Dr Richards who had flown in from England is treating the chief minister. The officials of TN government have been visiting the hospital since Friday morning. Former chief minister and DMK president M Karunanidhi demanded that the health bulletin clarifying the condition of the CM be released immediately. The AIADMK leaders condemned Karunanidhi’s statement. Thousands of AIADMK workers have been reaching the city since morning.

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Tamil Nadu Congress Has a ‘Head’ At Last

CHENNAI: After much dilly-dallying, giving rise to much speculation and kindle the aspirations of individual leaders, the Congress High Command has at last nominated Mr. Su. Thirunavukkarasar as president of the Tamil Nadu Congress Committee (TNCC).

Ramaswami Sampath

Ramaswami Sampath

Ever since the poor show of the Congress in the State Assembly elections in May, despite its alliance with the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, and the subsequent resignation of the then TNCC chief, Mr. E.V.K.S. Elangovan, owning responsibility for the defeat, several senior leaders in the faction-ridden TNCC were hoping against hope that they stood a chance to head the State wing of the party. Among them were party veterans, Mr. P.T. Alphonse and Mr. Sudarsana Nachiappan, who was a minister in the Manmohan Singh government.

The name of yesteryear actress Kushboo was touted for a while, when another actress and party leader Nagma hinted at the possibility of a woman heading the TNCC, after her recent tete-at-tete with the AICC vice-president, Mr. Rahul Gandhi, in New Delhi.

All these speculations were set at rest when the 66-year-old Thirunavukkarasar was given the plum post, purportedly by Mr. Gandhi ,in the second week of September. He formally took charge at Satyamurthy Bhavan, the TNCC headquarters in Chennai, on Friday in the presence of former TNCC chiefs Elangovan, K.V. Thangkabalu and Kumari Ananthan and party MLAs. All of them expressed their solidarity with the new president and pledged their utmost cooperation in rebuilding the image of the party in the State. Mr. Thirunavukkarasar is fully aware of the difficult task of taking all faction leaders along with him in toning up the Congress in the State, and is confident of bringing about unity of leaders and cadres.

The TNCC is notorious for faction fights ever since the charismatic K. Kamaraj, former national president of the Congress, left the party in 1969 and aligned with the other old party stalwarts like Morarji Desai, S.K. Patil, Neelam Sanjiva Reddy and Atulya Ghosh who formed the Congress (Organisation) unable to stomach the domineering attitude of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Since then, the TNCC has been rudderless, though the late G.K. Moopanar, who was considered the trouble-shooter of the Congress at the national level, could retrieve some prestige. Even he could not bear the constant sniping of faction leaders. Ultimately he parted company with the party and founded the Tamil Maanila Congress in protest against the late P.V. Narasimha Rao’s decision to continue the party’s electoral alliance with the All-India Anna DMK  led by Ms. J. Jayalalithaa (He was for aligning with the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam). Moopanar returned to the parent party when Jayalalithaa broke up with the Congress and allied with the Bharatiya Janata Party. After his demise his son, Mr. G.K. Vasan, held the fort and became a minister in the Manmohan Singh government. He, too, left the Congress and revived the Tamil Maanila Congress during the 2014 election.

The faction tussle in the TNCC has been such that it is always open, sometimes leading to fisticuffs in Satyamurthy Bhavan. When Mr. Elangovan headed the TNCC, he had the toughest job of dealing with faction leaders like former Union Ministers P. Chidambaram and Vasan and Thangkabalu, but he managed thanks to the tacit support extended by party president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi.

The immediate challenge before Mr. Thirunavukkarasar is the forthcoming local body elections including those for prestigious municipal corporations like Chennai, Madurai and Coimbatore. A formal official announcement of the election schedule is expected any time. He has to initiate negotiations with the DMK, with which the Congress has allied in the Assembly elections and the same is continuing, on sharing hundreds of seats in panchayats, municipalities and corporations.

Though Mr. Thirunavukkarasar claims that all faction leaders and party seniors are “my friends” and so he would not encounter any difficulty in carrying on with his job, the second rung leaders are not enthusiastic about his elevation as he “is a late-comer to the party” and has been associated with DMK, AIADMK and BJP, besides floating his own MGR All-India Anna DMK.

He was a seasoned leader of the DMK and had won from Arantangi Assembly seat six times. When the late M.G. Ramachandran broke away from the DMK and founded the AIADMK in 1971, he jumped into that bandwagon, and became a member of the MGR cabinet in 1980. He was very close to Ms. J. Jayalalithaa for some time after MGR’s demise, but fell out and launched the MGR-AIADMK.  He allied with the BJP and the DMK in the 1999 general election, won the Pudukkottai Lok Sabha seat. After he merged his party with the BJP in 2002, he was elected to the Rajya Sabha from Madhya Pradesh and became a minister in the Vajpayee Government. This was considered an award for providing the BJP with a popular face in Tamil Nadu. In 2009, he deserted the BJP and has since been with the Congress. Because of this hobnobbing with several parties, he is considered a “defector” by some Congress functionaries. Obviously, they are not happy.

Political observers are wondering how Mr. Thirunavukkarasar is going to achieve the ‘impossible’ when hard boiled leaders like Moopanar, Chiidambaram and Vasan had utterly failed in their attempts.

Ramaswami Sampath
a Senior Journalist and Prime Associate from Chennai

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Cauvery row: 20 buses were set on fire in Bengaluru

Bengaluru: Violent mobs burnt vehicles and vandalised shops across Bengaluru on Monday.  At KPN  bus depot, more than 20 buses were set on fire by protesters . More than 15,000 police personnel were deployed  to contain the violence that erupted after the Supreme Court rejected Karnataka’s plea to temporarily stop the release of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu.

US authorities issued an advisory to its nationals to avoid visiting the disturbed areas.  

Large number of policemen  and patrolling vehicles  fanned across the Tamil-majority areas in Bengaluru.

Section 144,  which restricts people to assemble in public areas was imposed in the city from 5pm. Authorities shut down many schools in the city, suspended the Bengaluru Metro services and stopped buses from plying into Tamil Nadu.

Assuring  all assistance to the state to maintain law and order, the Centre has rushed ten companies of  Rapid Action Force (RAF)comprising 1,000 personnel. Some of the contingents will also be deployed in Tamil Nadu.Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah has called an emergency cabinet meeting on Tuesday to discuss the situation. He also wrote to his Tamil Nadu counterpart, J Jayalalithaa, over attacks on Kannadiga people in Chennai and other cities, demanding strict action.

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No surprises in by-election results in six States

NEW DELHI: There were no surprises in the by-elections to Bangaon Lok Sabha seat and Assembly seats held across six States as they were retained by political parties that held them earlier.

The surprise element, if any, lay only in the margins of victory of the winning candidates. Trinamool Congress won the Bangaon LS as well as Krishnaganj Assembly seat while BJP won two (Mukhed in Maharashtra and Panaji in Goa), AIADMK (Srirangam in Tamil Nadu), Telugu Desam (Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh) and Congress (Liromoba in Arunachal Pradesh).

TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee was a much relieved person after her party retained Bangaon Lok Sabha and the Krishnaganj Assembly seats in West Bengal. Her party was in a state of siege as her close supporters found themselves caught in a vortex of criminal cases surrounding the Sarada chit fund scam.

Some senior leaders have already been arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) as part of its probe into the scam while others have crossed over to the BJP. What should bring her cheer is the TMC’s success in halting the BJP’s surge and pouring cold water on the latter’s bid to wrest power in the Assembly elections in West Bengal due in 2016.

TMC candidate Mamata Thakur defeated her nearest CPI (M) rival from Bangaon LS by comfortable margin of 2.11 lakh votes while Satyajit Biswas triumphed over the BJP nominee in Krishnaganj by 37,000 votes. The CPI (M) stood a distant third in the Assembly bypoll.

AIADMK retained the Srirangam Assembly seat held earlier by party general secretary J. Jayalalithaa with a convincing margin of 96,515 votes.  Party candidate S. Valarmathi defeated the DMK nominee who polled 55,046 votes against 1,51,561 polled by her.  The vacancy was caused by the disqualification of the former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister following her conviction in criminal cases.

Panaji in Goa which was represented by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar until his resignation was retained by the BJP. The party candidate Sidharth Sripad Kuncalienker trounced his nearest Congress rival by a majority of 5,368 votes. This is considered a big margin in Goa where the constituencies are small in size and where the Congress candidate polled just 5,368 votes.

The Telugu Desam Party had a cakewalk from Tirupati Assembly seat where the by-election was caused by the death of its MLA M. Venkataramana. His widow Ms. M. Sugunamma won the seat by a massive margin of 1.16 lakh votes over her Congress rival R. Sreedevi who lost her deposit as she polled just 9,628 votes. The anti-Congress mood as well as the sympathy factor worked in favour of the TDP candidate.

BJP’s Tushar Rathod easily won the Mukhed seat in Maharashtra raising the party’s strength to 122 in the 288-member Assembly. The Congress party’s sole success came from Arunachal Pradesh where it retained the Liromoba seat. Its candidate Nyamar Karbak defeated his BJP rival by a slender margin of 119 votes.

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