Wednesday, September 24, 2014

J Jayalalithaa case verdict to alter Tamil Nadu politics

If the verdict goes against Jayalalithaa, experts say, it could give the opposition DMK an opportunity to sort out its internal differences.

ET Bureau | 24 Sep, 2014, 12.22PM IST 
A new phase in Tamil Nadupolitics could start at the end of this week.

The Bangalore court's verdict in the disproportionate assets case against Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa and three others on Saturday is expected to set the tone for the political agenda in the state where elections are due in less than two years.

Political pundits say that if Jayalalithaa, the AIADMK supremo, is let off in the case that has dragged on for over 18 years, she will leverage it to the fullest to secure victory in the 2016 assembly elections.

On the other hand, if the verdict goes against Jayalalithaa, experts say, it could give the opposition DMK an opportunity to sort out its internal differences and bring together an alliance that will seek to decimate the AIADMK.

Leaders in the ruling party aren't too worried.

"The party is already enjoying the support of the public.

It is not as if the verdict is going to diminish the image of our leader. The public knows pretty well that it is a case of political vendetta," a senior AIADMK leader and former minister said, asking not to be identified. "In fact, even if the verdict goes against the leader, it will only increase the support of the people from across the state." The AIADMK leader said the verdict need not be seen as a crucial one because "whatever happens, everything is going to be normal and as usual. In any case, it is going to be Amma's government always and that is never going to change, even if someone is nominated to take her place temporarily." Jayalalithaa and the others are accused of acquiring assets worth Rs 66 crore disproportionate to their income during her first term as chief minister in 1991-96. The case was shifted to Bangalore from Chennai by the Supreme Court in 2003 after the DMK said a fair trial could not be conducted in the state.

"If there is a conviction, there will be a sympathy wave in favour of Jayalalithaa, which will help her. If she is acquitted, it will strengthen her stand on vendetta poli tics,'' senior journalist and political analyst T Sigamani said. "The DMK will be hoping to get its act together in case there is a conviction. Being the main opposition, the party may hope to lead an alliance into the next election.'' The court is set to deliver its verdict on September 27 at a makeshift location at Gandhi Bhavan near Parapanna Agrahara Central Prison in Bangalore.

"We have always maintained that we have immense faith in the judiciary and that the law will take its own course," DMK spokesman and party organising secretary TKS Elangovan told ET.

Sources in the DMK said the impact of the verdict may be diminished because of the time taken in the case.

"We hope that the aspect of Jaya's misrule will be highlighted when the verdict comes out,'' a DMK leader said, adding it would help the party consolidate its position and base ahead of the coming assembly elect

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