Sasikala convicted: Who inherits Amma's political legacy as Chinnamma will cool her heels in prison?

If J Jayalalithaa was still alive, she would have been convicted, and Sasikala, the self-proclaimed heir apparent, would have been one rung below the supremo in the order of conviction from the two-member bench of the Supreme Court.

Jayalalithaa was the prime accused, and the three others, VK Sasikala, Ilavarasi, and Sudhakaran, were the co-conspirators in the case. Sasikala and her two relatives are not just convicted to four years in jail in the disproportionate assets case, they are disqualified from contesting election for a decade.

Sasikala and J Jayalalithaa. File photo. PTI

Sasikala and J Jayalalithaa. File photo. PTI

The case against Jayalalithaa had abated, however on Tuesday, the Supreme Court restored in full the conviction of the trial court. It may not be incorrect to say that Jayalalithaa’s death has robbed justice its due. For which, the judicial system may have to blame itself for cases are allowed to crawl slowly, for two reasons: Frequent adjournments are the norm, and overloaded courts another.

Sasikala is now precluded from seeking an election to even a gram panchayat, which she has not even attempted in the past, though she was inspired to be her companion’s successor both in AIADMK and the Tamil Nadu government.

Jayalalithaa would have had the ignominy of being asked to leave the office she held and reach the trial court in Bengaluru and surrender. Loss of office and loss of prospects of returning to it is worse than a mere roadblock which Sasikala now has.

The scenes on the streets may have been different on Tuesday had it been Jayalalithaa in sharp focus. Her absence from the scene, and the split in the party apparently blunted the party’s angst. They are now merely blaming the BJP for a political conspiracy.

The additional factor is the split within the party which diminished, even before the judgment was delivered, Sasikala’s claimed aura because of her association with Jayalalithaa. She had to go to the resort thrice where her supporters – or those she claimed were supporters – to keep them in her fold.

She even had to go and spend a night there. Jayalalithaa may not have even deigned to look in the direction of the resort converted into a camp for AIADMK MLAs after having dispatched them there. But then, there would not have been a split. Jayalalithaa from a prison would have held sway, as she did by appointing O Panneerselvam twice when she had to leave the office.

Panneerselvam is known as the man who merely prostrated before her and it was Sasikala’s error of judgement that OPS would remain as compliant to the mere wishes and desires from the Poes Garden palace. He proved that despite lying flat, face down, at Amma’s feet – almost all AIADMK cadre, ministers included, did that – he had a spine.

Now the interesting questions arise: Would OPS’ plan of converting Amma’s residence into a memorial hold any meaning except that it would be a museum of corruption? Though, of course, it could well become a showcase for over 10,000 saris and accessories that she reportedly had.

The second question: Who would be the real inheritor of the late Amma with Sasikala missing from the political scene?

A family member? That would be odd, for none of them, were ever seen as being close to her to lay claim to that. If that happened, it would be a new nuance in Indian politics: Family far removed from the scene in which Amma reigned was good enough for the Indian democracy.

However, rest assured that in Tamil Nadu, all those in the AIADMK over time would continue to insist that Jayalalithaa was relevant to them but for political expediency. There’s going to be no Amma to thwart that.

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Updated Date: Feb 14, 2017 17:24:04 IST

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