TN officials survey Jaya’s bungalow for memorial, IT dept refuses to play ball
A year after the death of former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, the Tamil Nadu Government on Saturday took the first steps to convert her imposing Veda Nilayam bungalow in posh Poes Garden here into a memorial, even as her niece Deepa had objected to the move.
On Saturday morning, a team of officials including the Chennai Collector accompanied by staff of the Revenue and Public Works Department entered Veda Nilayam and conducted an assessment. Senior Income Tax Department officials were also present on the occasion.
Jayalalithaa is not known to have left behind any will bequeathing her vast estate that runs into several crore rupees. Deepa had already moved the Madras High Court seeking to declare her as the heir considering that the plot on which the bungalow is located was jointly purchased by her grandmother Sandhya (also a film actress) and Jayalalithaa during her hey days as a heroine in Tamil cinema. Deepa’s father Jayakumar was Jayalalithaa’s brother.
“The Tamil Nadu officials went to Poes Garden to estimate the likely value of the building and estate in Poes Garden so that whoever is eventually declared as her heir could be compensated accordingly. For the moment, if we go ahead with the memorial plan and takeover the property then we would deposit the money towards compensation in the court which can eventually settle it to the heir, if there is any,” said a senior government official.
A source said the IT Department officials were called in so that two rooms that were sealed during the recent raids on the family members of V K Sasikala, jailed aide of Jayalalithaa could be opened. Sasikala and her sister-in-law Illavarasi, her co-convict in Bengaluru jail in a case in which Jayalalithaa was the prime accused, were the last occupants of the house after Jayalalithaa’s death.
Source said the IT Department refused to remove the seals of the two rooms since its investigation was not yet completed.
Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam had first raised the demand to convert Jayalalithaa’s house into a memorial. This was ceded to by Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami as a condition to allow the merger of the AIADMK faction led by Panneerselvam with the ruling faction a few months ago.