The Supreme Court has confirmed the judgement of the trial court, re-affirming the four-year sentence imposed on VK Sasikala, finding her guilty of corruption in the 20-year-old DA case. The Court has asked Sasikala to surrender before the Karnataka trial court immediately. 

So what are the options before Tamil Nadu and the AIADMK now? The most obvious future is that the AIADMK MLAs, who have been holed up inside the Golden Bay Resort, will flood over to Panneerselvan’s side. After all, if Sasikala goes to jail now, she will be disqualified for six years after her sentence ends - meaning a total of ten years out of public office. Surely no MLA wants to be the last one to join the winning side. 

However, it is not like all options are over for Sasikala. For example, she has been convicted by a two-member bench of the Supreme Court. She can always ask for a five-member bench to take another look at the case. However, it is not certain if the Supreme Court will agree to that. 

The second, perhaps more realistic option, for Sasikala would be to appoint a stand-in for her in the AIADMK. It may be a family member, or it could also be a close member of the AIADMK. Whether that ‘stand-in’ will command the same loyalty from the AIADMK as Sasikala is hard to tell. 

For now, Sasikala is expected to go to Parappana Agrahara jail in Bengaluru along with two of her relatives who have also been convicted. As the situation stands now, the brief political career of Sasikala has come to a grinding halt. 

As for the AIADMK, it remains a fractured party. The MLAs who have been on Sasikala’s side may never be able to reconcile with Panneerselvam. The haste with which Sasikala made a bid for the chief minister seems to have been the undoing of the AIADMK. If Sasikala had simply stayed on as General Secretary, she could have served her sentence as a martyr of the AIADMK while Pannerselvam was the CM. 

Unless the AIADMK MLAs now decide to rally around a proxy of Sasikala, the path is cleared for the return of Panneerselvam. But he comes back stronger than ever. His rebellion has made him the hero of the masses, thanks to the general feeling that he was standing up for what is ‘right’. 

The best hope for the AIADMK is that somehow the bury this incident and continue to enjoy the last gift that Jayalalithaa gave them - a strong majority for four more years.