Chennai: The induction of J. Jayalalithaa as chief minister of Tamil Nadu for the fifth time on Friday last following her acquittal in the disproportionate assets case is evidence of her extraordinary ability to bounce back every time she seems down and out.
Jayalalithaa had been convicted on September 27 last year, sentenced to four years in prison, a Rs 100 crore fine and seemed doomed to stay out of politics for a decade as the court barred her from contesting elections and holding public office. All seemed lost for her as she languished in a Bangalore jail (her case had earlier been shifted to a Bangalore court so as to prevent her from influencing the judiciary in Tamil Nadu). However, she notched up a dramatic victory as the single-judge bench of the Karnataka High Court overturned the lower court verdict and released her with the bar on her return to public office quashed. Just when she was back in Chennai breathing a huge sigh of relief came the Special Public Prosecutor’s claim that the judge had erred in mathematical calculations and that her assets had indeed multiplied by 76 per cent and not 8 per cent while she held office as chief minister from 1991to 1996. With the Karnataka government not having approached the High Court for a review of the judgement so far, speculation is rife that it may choose not to do so under pressure from the Congress high command. The only other entity who can challenge the High Court order is the original petitioner, Subramaniam Swamy. Considering that the AIADMK had swept the 2014 Lok Sabha elections in Tamil Nadu her support for both the Congress and the BJP would be very vital in the 2019 elections.
As of now, however, Jayalalithaa enjoys untrammelled power and a lot of key projects which the Tamil Nadu government has been sitting over could be taken up now as she moves to convince the people that she alone can set the State moving. These would include new investments which have been at a virtual standstill in the few months that she was out of power. A surfeit of people-oriented welfare schemes could also be announced since the masses have been her backbone of support.