Enough with Jayalalithaa's wailing supporters: AIADMK needs to rein them in

The widespread protest and occasional violence that Tamil Nadu has been witnessing ever since former chief minister and AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa was jailed has been unique in that nobody knew who the ire was directed against. However, as the days pass by it has found a target in Karnataka. Now, with her bail also being rejected by the Karnataka high court, all the anger seems to be targeted at Karnataka.

Whether they believe in it or not, a sizeable number of AIADMK workers feel that Karnataka is settling scores with Jaya for her stand on Cauvery. A poster that was found in various parts of Chennai said: “Keep the Cauvery with you, give us our Amma back”. Another one threatened Kannadigas.

 Enough with Jayalalithaas wailing supporters: AIADMK needs to rein them in

Supporters of AIADMK supremo Jayalalithaa block a road. Reuters

Looks like their doubts were confirmed when the state high court denied her bail on Tuesday and this time they picked on properties and people from Karnataka. As this Indian Express report noted, the protestors attacked vehicles with Karnataka registration numbers and business establishments owned by people from the state. An Udupi hotel in Chennai was attacked and more than ten incidents of stone pelting on Karnataka registered vehicles were reported in different parts of the state.

The problem with the situation is that there is hardly anybody to contain the violence because it’s the AIADMK supporters’ expression of anger and resentment at the fate of their supreme leader in a state that is ruled by the same party. The police and the state administration appear to be in a difficult situation because any strong-willed action against the violence will be seen as against the sentiments of the supporters of Jayalalithaa. The only option to them is to wait and let the situation die down. The administration apparently hasn’t done anything else which prompted the DMK chief Karunanidhi warning alternative action if the violence continued.

Unfortunately the anger against Karnataka, that has been further fanned by small time AIADMK leaders, is completely misplaced. As political leaders from Karnataka such as Deve Gowda have said, the state had nothing to do with the case and was not even a voluntary votary of the trial. In fact, instead of anger, what the state deserves is appreciation for hosting the trial of such a high profile case without any untoward incidents. Neither the AIADMK leaders nor workers can fathom this and hence they are unable to contain cadre sentiments.

However, on Tuesday, there was an encouraging gesture from the chief minister O Panneerselvam. He asked the party workers and supporters to avoid protests and violence and even said that that is what Jaya would like. It’s high time the senior leadership of the party and the cabinet invoke Jaya’s name and bring the situation under control. In the absence of adequate political leadership, the state bureaucracy has the responsibility to ensure that law and order is under control.

At the heart of the problem is the competitive show of support by not only the party workers and leaders, but also by other sections of society. Sectors such as the film industry, school managements and lawyers were among the groups that have organised protests so far.

The problem also is the inability of the cadres to understand that Jaya’s situation is the outcome of a legal process that lasted 18 years and gave all possible avenues of redress to their leader. Her chances are not yet exhausted and she can still be cleared of conviction. It’s therefore incumbent upon the stand-by leadership and administration to rein the cadres before there are counter responses from chauvinist groups in Karnataka.

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Updated Date: Oct 09, 2014 07:11:15 IST