Savour the delicious irony of O Panneerselvam celebrating the Supreme Court verdict on the disproportionate assets case.
Moments after the apex court announced its judgment on Tuesday morning, Panneerselvam's camp broke into impromptu celebrations. The overwhelming feeling in his camp was justice had been served.
Now, imagine his reaction had the verdict been announced a few months ago when his benefactor and 'Amma', J Jayalalithaa, was alive. Fancy Panneerselvam's reaction had the Supreme Court upheld the lower court sentence of a hefty penalty and four years of jail to Jayalalithaa.
In the euphoria of seeing VK Sasikala go to jail, get disqualified for the job she was coveting, let us not forget the real meaning of the verdict. In clear terms, the SC has held Jayalalithaa guilty of amassing huge wealth through corrupt practises. The verdict is an indictment of Jayalalithaa's legacy, although she has escaped punishment because she is no more.
After twenty years, justice has been served. But because of the delay, it has allowed the former chief minister escape the punishment she deserved. Sasikala, thankfully, has fallen too before getting an opportunity to carry on her mentor's legacy. But she is just collateral damage, a sidekick in the entire corruption drama.
The SC may have had its reasons for withholding the judgment in the case. The apex court had decided the case in June 2016 but delayed the announcement. During these intervening eight months, the politics of Tamil Nadu went through a metamorphosis.
Technically, Jayalalithaa was found guilty of corruption eight months ago, a denouement that would have immediately disqualified her from contesting polls and holding any constitutional post for at least six years after serving her sentence. Yet, the delay allowed her to remain chief minister of the state, escape the punishment that now seems Sasikala's destiny.
The irony of the judgment is that it has come at a perfect time for the AIADMK, allowing those who should have been mourning to go out and celebrate. It has also allowed Panneerselvam to claim a sort of moral legitimacy to Jayalalithaa's legacy posthumously tainted by indictment for corruption. If Amma were alive, Panneerselvam would have been her proxy, he would have ruled Tamil Nadu by keeping, like Bharat did for Lord Rama in exile, her sandals on the seat of power, becoming a butt of jokes and ridicule. Now, he would be hailed as a victor of the battle for moral supremacy, the upright man who stood up for what is right!
Sasikala, obviously, will pass into electoral history as someone who was not just corrupt but also somebody who became daft because of her greed for power. Somebody who planned for the next five years even when her survival for the next few days wasn't guaranteed.
In a way, this is a perfect punishment for Sasikala. For years she enjoyed power, wealth and hubris because of just one accident of fate — her association with Jayalalithaa. In her death, her mentor has taken away everything she gave Sasikala in her life.
Sasikala won't just spend four years in jail. It seems her entire life would now be a cruel sentence spent ruing her thwarted ambition.
Published Date: Feb 14, 2017 15:55 PM | Updated Date: Feb 14, 2017 15:55 PM