AIADMK legislative party to meet Sunday morning to discuss future, zero in on successor
Shivani Chaturvedi | September 27, 2014 | Chennai
Tamil Nadu, especially the state capital Chennai, has a tense weekend in store as irate and passionate supporters of J Jayalalithaa raise the temperature in the aftermath of the chief minister’s conviction and sentencing by a Bangalore in a disproportionate assets case on Saturday.
Jayalalithaa’s close aide Sasikala Natarajan, her niece Ilavarasi and nephew VN Sudhakaran have also been convicted in the multi-crore disproportionate assets case.
The case was filed by Subramanian Swamy, now with the BJP, in 1997 regarding accumulation of assets worth Rs 66 crore during her first tenure as Tamil Nadu chief minister from 1991 to 1996.
As news about her conviction spread in the afternoon, stray cases of violence and rioting were reported from different parts of the state amid heavy police and security bandobast. There were reports that several supporters of “Amma”, as Jayalalithaa is affectionately called, attempted self-immolation.
As the evening wore on, there were reports from many parts of Chennai and from other parts of the state that AIADMK supporters had forced shops to down shutters. Effigies of rival DMK leader M Karunanidhi were reportedly burnt at several places, while stones were thrown at the DMK chief’s residence in Chennai.
Handed a four-year jail term and slapped with a fine of Rs 100 crore, Jayalalithaa, 66, has reportedly told the court that she is unwell.
With the supreme court last year ruling that a convicted lawmaker cannot continue as an MP or MLA and would be disqualified from office, Jayalalithaa becomes the first chief minister to be disqualified as a legislator. This is also the highest monetary penalty imposed on any politician.
The law also bars Jayalalithaa from contesting elections for the next 10 years– six years after she completes her four-year jail term, unless special judge John Michael D'Cunha's judgment is reversed by a higher court.
According to NDTV, angry AIADMK cadres attacked the news channel’s crew and damaged equipment outside Ms Jayalalithaa's residence in Poes Garden, Chennai.
“Jayalalithaa will continue to dominate the party because the party is dependent on her. The party cannot survive without her. Even though she will be in jail, Jayalalithaa will remain the mastermind. It is only over a period of time that her political career might get affected,” Chennai-based political analyst Gnani Sankaran told Governance Now.
Party sources told Governance Now that the AIADMK legislative party will meet on Sunday morning to decide on Jayalalithaa’s successor. It is, however, too early to speculate whether this brings to an end Jayalalithaa’s political career – former Haryana CM and Indian National Lok Dal leader Om Prakash Chautala, also convicted in a criminal case and out on bail, had on Thursday announced at a rally that he would take oath as chief minister from jail, if need be (read our story here)
What happened earlier?
This was the last of 12 cases filed against Jayalalithaa. she was acquitted in the 11 cases earlier, and thus, according to political observers in Chennai, it was important for DMK's sheer survival in immediate future, after the debacle in the 2011 assembly and this summers general elections, that she got a conviction in this one. The Rs 66 crore she had at the time was disproportionate to her known sources of income – she drew a token monthly salary of one rupee at the time. The directorate of vigilance and anti-corruption, which probed the case, told the court that Jayalalithaa had failed to answer questions on how she amassed this wealth.
The DMK government, which came to power after the 1996 assembly elections, got Jayalalithaa arrested in connection with the case. She was jailed for some days. The case, being heard by a special court in Chennai at the time, was transferred to Bangalore by the apex court in 2003 based on a petition by DMK leader K Anbazhagan after Jayalalithaa returned to power in 2002.