Monday became an extended ‘Mother's Day’ for the cadre of All India Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) party in Tamil Nadu, as their ‘Amma’, meaning ‘mother and the epithet by which party leader J Jayalalithaa is popularly known, was released in an 18-year-old disproportionate assets case.
“We have been waiting for this verdict. Today is the real Mother's Day for us,” said AIADMK spokesperson C R Saraswati.
Celebrations broke out outside the AIADMK general secretary Jayalalithaa’s residence with party cadres dancing in joy and bursting crackers as news of her acquittal broke.
Thousands of cadres were shouting ‘Long Live Amma’ and distributed sweets; they had been waiting outside Jayalalithaa’s residence in Poes Garden since morning for the court’s decision.
The Karnataka High Court’s verdict is expected to result in her return to the chief minister's chair, which she lost eight months back when she was convicted in the case by a Special Court. Media reports here suggest current Chief Minister O Panneerselvam may resign as early as today and that Jayalalithaa may be sworn in May 17.
The lawyers present in the court hall in Karnataka High Court came out and confirmed that Justice C R Kumaraswamy had struck down the verdict handed down by a trial court in the Rs 66.65 crore disproportionate assets case.
AIADMK's mouthpiece Jaya TV, which had been referring to the leader as 'people's chief minister' after her conviction, has already started referring her as the chief minister immediately following the verdict. The cadres expect it is only a matter of time before she is back as the Tamil Nadu CM.
Current Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, who took over from Jayalalithaa after she was convicted, was beaming as he rushed to greet Jayalalithaa at her residence. He is expected to resign from his second term in as the CM any time now.
If she does choose to come back to the position, a by-election will have to be held within six months. Political analysts are of the view that since the Assembly elections are expected to come in 2016, Jayalalithaa might also opt for dismissing the Assembly at the earliest and go for an early election, which will allow her to leverage the sentiments of the voting public following the favourable verdict.
AIADMK has all along alleged that the case was political vendetta by its arch rival Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and was utilised by the Karnataka government, which lost the Cauvery dispute with the State.
They also point out that the AIADMK, led by Jayalalithaa, won in 37 seats, of the total 39 seats in Tamil Nadu in the Lok Sabha elections in 2014. The party became the third largest party in the Parliament, after the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress.
While experts and party cadres are looking at such possibilities, the actual decision has to come from Jayalalithaa herself, as she is the supreme authority in her party.
Jayalalithaa, along with three of her aides, were held guilty of holding unaccounted for income during her first tenure as the chief minister in 199-96 by a trial court in Bangalore on September 27, 2014. The other convicted persons were here close aide N Sasikala, her relative V N Sudhakaran and J Elasvarasi.
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First Published: Mon, May 11 2015. 12:20 IST