India politician Jayalalitha carries out party cull

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalitha
Image caption A former actress, Ms Jayalalitha has served as chief minister three times

The chief minister of the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu has expelled her close aide VK Sasikala, her husband M Natarajan and 10 others from her AIADMK party.

J Jayalalitha announced the expulsions in a brief statement and told her party not to conduct any relations with the expelled members.

Correspondents say the action against Ms Sasikala is drastic.

She has enjoyed the absolute confidence of Ms Jayalalitha for many decades.

Corruption case

VN Sudhakaran - Ms Sasikala's son - who is the chief minister's foster son, has also been expelled.

Ms Sasikala, Mr Natarajan and their relatives, including TTV Dinakaran and VN Sudhakaran were "being expelled from all posts, including the party's primary membership," Press Trust of India quoted Ms Jayalalitha as saying.

The action against Ms Sasikala has surprised many people in Tamil Nadu as she has been seen with Ms Jayalalitha in most of her private and public appearances.

There has been no official reason for the expulsions.

Ms Sasikala is also one of the accused in a corruption case against Ms Jayalalitha.

Ms Jayalalitha is accused of amassing $13.6m (£8.5m) during her first term as chief minister between 1991 and 1996. She denies the allegation.

In what is known as a "disproportionate assets" case, prosecutors allege that this sum exceeds what she should have earned once all legally held assets and sources of income were taken into account.

A former actress, Ms Jayalalitha is one of India's most colourful and controversial politicians.

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