After 18 years and many attempts of delaying and derailing, Jayalalitha has been convicted on charges of amassing assets disproportionate to her known sources of income. She has been sentenced to 4 years of imprisonment and an unprecedented Rs 100 crore punishment.
It is fairly well known that many, if not all the politicians of the two ruling parties DMK and AIADMK have indulged in corruption and have amassed wealth way beyond their legal means. They are free because they have been cleverer in dealing with their assets, or they have not been investigated by the police properly. In case of Jayalalitha, she was either naive or irresponsible, and DMK when it came to power quickly moved to investigate the complaints against her and prosecuted her vigorously.
One should consider the role of the indefatigable Subramanian Swamy. It was his complaint and pressure that initiated investigation against her. It is the same Swamy who is at the forefront of the 2G case in which DMK chief Karunanidhi’s daughter Kanimozhi is one of the accused.
Jayalalitha will be quitting as CM. There is wild speculation on her possible successor but whoever she handpicks, Jayalalitha will be the de facto CM of Tamil Nadu.
The news of sporadic violence and burning of buses are worrying, but they are to be expected given the kind of complete devotion many illiterate men and women have for Jayalalitha. They believe Jayalalitha is innocent. They do not understand legal processes. In their world of black and white, Jayalalitha is white and everybody else is black. To them, in their own words, she is the ‘goddess of dharma’. Such cadre are prone to attack and harm others and themselves. Their outpouring, swear words and violent reaction on TV screens tell us a worrying story. Outside the legal system, there will be battles waged elsewhere and the battles will be ugly.
DMK will certainly gain some momentum. It has been down in the dumps for the last few years. But its gains will not be significant unless MK Stalin is given complete powers to take his party forward. M Karunanidhi does not seem to be inclined in this direction still. DMK is also beset with 2G case and Aircel Maxis case in which Kanimozhi, Raja and Dayanidhi Maran of DMK are accused.
BJP is likely to gain to a certain extent. People unhappy with the two corrupt parties are likely to support BJP in the next elections. But to make a big difference, BJP has to strengthen its grassroots organization in a big way. Parties like DMKDK, PMK and MDMK are not currently in a position to gain from this verdict. These parties are headed by old and ailing leaders and there is no second in command to take over from them. At least in this regard, DMK is in a better position.
Things will calm down in Tamil Nadu within a day or two. But governance will take a back seat. Tamil Nadu is facing unprecedented power shortage and there’s no solution in sight. Jayalalitha has not been interacting with business leaders and has hardly paid any attention to their long list of requests. Manufacturing centres like Coimbatore, Tirupurp, Karur and Sivakasi have been ailing for quite a while. Andhra Pradesh with its excise exemption will see many old and new industries migrating there. This cannot be a good news for Tamil Nadu.
There is clearly a power vacuum. But Jayalalitha still holds a few aces up her sleeves. The law has caught up with her, but political opponents may still find it difficult to dislodge her.
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