Besides being a stupendous victory for herself and her party, the acquittal of former Tamil Nadu chief minister and AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa will be a death knell for the DMK. If she calls for early elections, as widely expected, the DMK might find it extremely difficult to stand up to the tide of support that she would amass with her legal victory.
Jaya will return to the chief minister’s office in a few days, but she will also have to get re-elected to the assembly within the next six months, which may prompt her to call for early elections. The term of the present assembly ends only in 2016.
It’s advantage Jaya all the way. Almost all the media reports from the state, some of which relied on expert legal opinion, had speculated an unfavourable verdict from the Karnataka High Court, particularly in view of the Supreme Court setting aside the appointment of the public prosecutor Bhawani Singh recently. What appeared to have made her chances weak was the directive by the apex court which had asked the Karnataka High Court (HC) to ignore Singh’s arguments and consider only the written submissions by DMK leader K Anbazhagan, who had moved the petition against her, and the Karnataka government. It had asked the HC to ”dispassionately render a judgement which is objectively and resolutely expressed.”
The general interpretation of this SC verdict was that it was disadvantage Jaya because it gave credence to the arguments of the DMK. The DMK was obviously happy because the party had always held that Bhawani Singh had weakened the case without offering strong counters to Jaya’s arguments that the value of her assets had been exaggerated.
Even the AIADMK quarters were not too optimistic. Media reports quoted party sources appearing downcast and doubtful although none of its leaders said anything in public. They all waited with bated breath and a wide variety of prayers.
With the decks cleared now, Jaya will come back with enormous force. During her absence from Fort St George, the state administration was on veritable freeze with the stand-in chief minister O Panneerselvam delivering his duties with minimal display of authority and visibility. There were no major announcements of development projects, press conferences, or inaugurations during the interregnum. Everybody was waiting.
Two major initiatives, the inauguration of Chennai Metro and a Global Investors Meet, have been delayed because of Jaya’s absence from the office. Reportedly, the first phase of the Chennai Metro has been ready for some time, but hasn’t yet been inaugurated because of Jaya’s absence. Similarly, the Investors Meet, which was originally scheduled to be held in 2014, has been postponed thrice. With her back in office, the Chennai Metro will be flagged off soon and the Investors Meet is likely to be advanced. Both of them will be major publicity vehicles for her return. There may be a slew of other activities as well.
For the DMK, this is only the beginning of possible setbacks. As it begins to lick its wounds in this case, major mega-buck corruption cases are staring it in its face. The 2G case, in which former telecom minister A Raja and party MP Kanimozhi are prime accused, is an alabatross around its neck, while the Aircel-Maxis deal and the alleged misuse of BSNL lines by the Maran brothers has brought the stain of corruption to Karunanidhi’s door steps. A verdict in the 2G is expected before the end of the year. A negative verdict on 2G will have disastrous consequences for the DMK.
Although last year’s trial court conviction in the disproportionate assets has been the worst setback she has ever faced, Jaya had weathered many storms in the past. Her rise to the helm of AIADMK against all odds, after her mentor and former chief minister MG Ramachandran died in 1987, itself was a legendary tale of her resilience. She had seen landslide election victories and abysmal failures. Whenever her chips had been down, she bounced back with more vigour. In 2001, her appointment as the chief minister was struck down by the SC in a case involving government land although she had led her party to a massive victory. She returned to the office pretty soon.
With today’s verdict, Jaya can righteously claim that she was not corrupt and that the charges against her were trumped up by the DMK whose leaders are mired in big-ticket corruption. Meanwhile, all the eyes are on 17 or 19 May, when she will take oath yet again as the chief minister of the state. That will be one hell of a day of excitement.
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Updated Date: May 12, 2015 07:11:33 IST