Tirupathur: Invoking late AIADMK stalwarts M G Ramachandran and J Jayalalithaa, expelled AIADMK leader V K Sasikala on Monday called for unity to jointly defeat the "common foe" and announced her intention to engage in active politics, four years after she completed a prison term in a corruption case in Bengaluru.
Whenever the party faced challenges, it has risen like a 'phoenix,' she said alluding to the mythical bird, even as she kept up the suspsense on going to the AIADMK headquarters at Chennai, the building of the ruling dispensation she once controlled.
In her first comments days after being discharged from a hospital in Bengaluru where she was treated for COVID-19 post her release from the prison, Sasikala asserted she will not be cowed down by "oppression".
"I have come out of corona due to divine intervention and the blessings of my akka (elder sister) Puratchi Thalaivi Idaya Deivam (God) Amma who lives in the hearts of the people," she said addressing supporters here en route to Chennai from Bengaluru.
Jayalalithaa is also addressed as Puratchi Thalaivi, meaning revolutionary leader and Amma.
Sasikala said she would dedicate the rest of her life to ensure Jayalalithaa's oft repeated statement that AIADMK will exist for a 100 years even after her and would follow the principle of "family is the party, party is the family."
"It was the duty of all to ensure there should be no place for 'divide and rule' by political opponents and the 'grand' movement which was walking the path laid down by Ramachandran, the founder, "should not collapse due to the whims and fancies of a few," she added.
She said she will strive for the AIADMK's welfare till her last breath and said workers should remain united and ensure victory in the coming polls.
Quoting late Ramachandran, she told her loyalists: "I am bound by love, to the Tamil ethos and the principles I have embarked upon as well as the people of Tamil Nadu. But I can never be enslaved by oppression."
Later, answering reporters' query if she would visit the AIADMK headquarters in Chennai, she said "please wait and see."
"Sure, for party workers," was her response when scribes asked if she would engage in active politics, months ahead of the scheduled Assembly polls in the state.
Earlier, Sasikala returned to Tamil Nadu to a grand reception, days after completing her jail term in Bengaluru in the Rs 66.6 crore disproportionate assets case, amid indications of a confrontation with the ruling party.
Her convoy comprising buses, vans and cars was heading for Chennai after brief halt at various points and amid tension at few places as the police tried to restrict the number of vehicles.
Clad in a green colour saree, 'Chinnamma' as Sasikala is fondly called was sitting in car. She was seen responding to the greetings of the supporters with folded hands.
Sasikala, Ilavarasi and Jayalalithaa's disowned foster son V.N. Sudhakaran were sentenced to four years imprisonment by the Supreme Court in the disproportionate assets case in 2017.
The case was originally filed against Jayalalithaa and the three others for amassment of assets disproportionate to their known sources of income between 1991 and 1996.
The trial court in Bengaluru had convicted all the four but the Karnataka High Court later acquitted them.
On appeals challenging their acquittals, the Supreme Court confirmed and restored the trial court order convicting Sasikala, Illavarasi and Sudhakaran. Since Jayalalithaa died in December, 2016, the apex court abated appeals against her acquittal.
Sasikala underwent her sentence at the Parapana Agrahara central prison in Bengaluru since February, 2017 and was set free on January 27.
She was discharged from the hospital on January 31 after which she stayed at a resort, about 35 km from Bengaluru.
On Monday morning, she left for Chennai.
On AIADMK ministers filing police complaint against her use of the ruling party flag on her car, she said "I think it shows their apprehension."
Responding to Jayalalithaa's memorial in Chennai being closed for maintenance, she said "the people of Tamil Nadu know very well what all this means."
(With inputs from PTI and IANS)