The political fallout of Jaya’s failing

Jayalalithaa a leader who was ambitious about her party and herself

Following a stunning political resurgence in the last Assembly election in Tamil Nadu and this year’s Lok Sabha election comes a thudding crash for Chief Minister Jayalalithaa. She has been deprived of even her Assembly seat following her conviction and sentencing to four years in jail in the 18-year-old disproportionate assets case by the special court in Bengaluru.
A successful appeal in the Karnataka High Court might save her from the four-year jail sentence plus a massive '100 crore fine, but on Saturday the AIADMK star was marched off to prison where she had to be admitted to the hospital within its precincts.
Since the high court is shut for the next week, the former Chief Minister cannot live down the ignominy of being housed in prison at least for this period.
The majesty of the law, which makes no distinction between the powerful and the powerless, has been upheld.
It is far from clear if her party supporters who have taken to the streets against the verdict will continue to be partisan if she files an appeal but is unable to establish her innocence. The disgraced chief minister is likely to ponder deeply about whom she names her successor.
The Lalu Prasad Yadav model might be a tempting one for someone in Jayalalithaa’s shoes, but it has to be kept in view that the former Bihar CM had installed his wife in his place when he was despatched to jail in the fodder scam.
Does someone as trustworthy as that exist for the AIADMK supremo? The picture about her successor is far from clear.
Jayalalithaa was not just the state CM. She was also a leader who was ambitious for her party and herself as far as national politics is concerned. If the BJP under Narendra Modi had not swept to power on its own steam, the southern star would have justifiably seen herself as a key figure in national affairs. Indeed, even subsequently her party was seen by the BJP as an informal ally, especially due to its deficient numbers in the Rajya Sabha.
This coveted spot may now be considered forfeit. It may be politically risky for the ruling party at the Centre to any more show its proximity to Jayalalithaa for fear of being seen as partial to a leader disgraced on the count of corruption.
In Tamil Nadu affairs, the fortunes of DMK, Jayalalithaa’s main rival, had sunk precipitously and the party had picked up way too few seats in the Assembly. This wouldn’t make it easy for it to enjoy the political fruits of its rival’s acute discomfiture. In that sense, the state is in for fitful times.

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