With Sasikala convicted, AIADMK MLAs know O Panneerselvam, not Edappadi, is their last resort
In fact, more than the Supreme Court verdict, Sasikala & Co face an un assailable charge from which no court or fort can extricate them: the popular belief among party cadre and Jayalalithaa admirers that it was this grisly gang that caused their ‘dear Amma’ much bad name all through.
With just a stroke of the pen, the Supreme Court has incidentally called off a supreme calamity that was staring Tamil Nadu in the face. The conviction of wannabe chief minister and udan pirava sahodhari (close companion unrelated by blood) of the late, lamented Jayalalithaa — along with Jayalalithaa herself and two of the UPS clan — Sasikala has saved the state, its people, the treasury, Jayalalithaa's party and possibly, her iconic Poes Garden residence, too, from near doom!
Some dangerous debris is still littered on the landscape, but we hope the clean up will start soon.
A population of eight crore was waiting with choked chests for the fateful 10.30 am And when it arrived with glad tidings, it was like a second dawn in a single day. The whole state erupted in spontaneous celebrations over the short circuiting of UPS’ bid to usurp absolute power. In such is the dislike for Sasikala in Tamil Nadu's hate politics centred on pompous personalities perennially at war. The antipathy towards her is probably an unbeatable record, topping the hatred charts for posterity.
That Jayalalithaa too has been convicted posthumously is now a minor footnote in this inglorious legal chapter and charade that had dragged for decades. She had survived several such challenges and seamlessly. And just as the law, after taking its delayed, dreary course, managed to reach her, she moved from the heights of power at St George Fort to the pit of eternity at Marina beach, across the road, physically and metaphysically. The first accused is now a fond memory, leaving the criminal clan stewing in their own juice.
In fact, more than the Supreme Court verdict, Sasikala & Co face an un assailable charge from which no court or fort can extricate them: the popular belief among party cadre and Jayalalithaa admirers that it was this grisly gang that caused their ‘dear Amma’ much bad name all through. So Jayalalithaa, though convicted, is now a martyr, a trusting victim of crooked caretakers. And that is the most potent weapon that OPS possesses against UPS in his fight against the inevitable post-verdict mischief that the Family has already started unleashing. Digging into those 75 days of Jayalalithaa's ‘captivity’ in hospital as also that of the MLAs in the last few days would put the schemers, now without the support of Sasikala who will cool her heels in jail — even more on the back foot. (By the way, with UPS off the grid, who will foot the Resort bill?)
O Panneerselvam's immediate task is to ‘regain’ the numbers that made him an unanimous chief minister on December 5. Tamilnadu's theatre of the absurd can absorb any kind of tamasha. So the people would not mind if the MLAs were to sing and say that they were in forced confinement and that in their heart of hearts OPS was always their true Valentine. Maybe a few would demur and even risk anti-defection law, but all that is a matter of ‘floor management’, meaning ... well, forget it.
The MLAs — in the remote possibility of searching their conscience or better still, realising what is good for them — would and should go the OPS way. OPS is, to put it in jargon they will relate to right away, their last resort, not Edappadi Palaniswamy (Sasikala's chosen proxy). Clearly, the people and party are with OPS who is seen as some kind of exorcist who has driven away the devil. That the SC also provided him with a magic wand is pure providence. Again, no one wants an election now, not certainly the MLAs whose vanishing act for a long week is unlikely to fade from public memory. Power is perfect glue. But still, if the AIADMK legislature group were to split, OPS would be the long term gainer. We hope good sense will prevail. Maybe, the MLAs can meditate at Jayalalithaa memorial. It seems to work.
When I met OPS at the secretariat yesterday to invite him for a family function in March, I told him I was eager to see him participate therein as CM. So I have a vested interest in seeing my prophesy come true. But there is something else that I did not tell him. Here it is: Sir, please do not cry while taking oath next time. TN has cried enough, particularly in the last couple of years. Also, you have every right to smile and even laugh, even if it is your first laugh in public. We desperately need a break and a positive mood shift. No tear, just cheer.
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