Jayalalitha’s conviction in the 16 year-old disproportionate assets case has been celebrated as a triumph of justice by her detractors and the aam aadmis of our country. The high profile case which was moved to Bangalore in 2001 and saw 4 judges come and go was ridden with drama and would be remembered for its many firsts – the first judgement against a sitting Chief Minister, the ruling of Rs.100 crore as fine and so on. Needless to say, the days following the judgement saw sporadic violence in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka borders and the unsurprisingly insane show of loyalty by many of her followers – last I heard, 16 of her fans had committed suicide, apparently heartbroken at the ‘harsh’ judgement. When news like this surface, I’m reminded of the words of a acquaintance of mine. He, a top-level member of a political party, used to narrate stories of how, whenever news that tarnishes the image of their members come out, the party used to silently ‘encourage’ their gullible followers to create a scene, often by giving up their lives or fasting to death so as to make a statement. I remember laughing it off as an exaggeration then, but now that I think back, I don’t think he was joking.
One of my Facebook friends had put up a post that gained much traction considering the current atmosphere. He wrote “People are terribly angry at the court for finding out that their leader stole a lot of money from them.” Fair enough. After all, the response to her conviction has been nothing but confusing. Keeping aside her supporters, the politically neutral diaspora has been reacting to the news with a mix of ‘justice prevailed’ and sympathy. The reasons for this are two-fold. One – she was, as far as Chief Ministers go, a pretty good one. In between all the gold and property she is said to have amassed, she is one CM who actually managed to try and give back to the poorer-than-poor section of her state with her rice for Re.1, Amma canteens, Amma school bags and her latest, Amma Cements. Of course, the choice of name did provide for a lot of amusing one-liners then and now, but it is an irrefutable fact that her schemes did go a long way in easing the pangs of being poor in TN. Another, and in my opinion, more prevalent reason for the sympathy towards her is the fact that she has been caught in the net of justice of which many of her contemporaries have eased through like slippery eels. In a country where politician is synonymous with corruption, it seems to many that Jayalalitha has been singled out and prosecuted, particularly in light of the upcoming elections. It doesn’t need a rocket scientist to figure out that the ruling could not have come at a better time for DMK, and, interestingly, to the BJP who has been, for long, looking for ways to weasel its way into South India and Tamil Nadu.
It is no doubt that justice have been served. The idea that no politician, not even a CM, is above law is a comforting thought, especially to the Indian youth who are increasingly frustrated with the Indian politics. The lack of transparency has long hampered the enthusiasm of the youth, so much so that a mention of development is all that it takes to fire their bloods. By its brave judgement, the Indian judiciary has indeed set an encouraging trend. It has proven that justice delayed is not justice denied. Of course, it is naive to assume that just because the ruling is passed, Ms.Jayalalitha is going to spend 4 years in prison. The law is ridden with infinite loopholes and second-chances – no doubt her team of lawyers will find a way to bring her out. As often is the case, the ruling here is symbolic. Yet, this symbolism is a breath of fresh air to the citizens who are being starved of its faith in judiciary and the law. One can only hope that the wind of change would someday fondle the likes of Mr.Amit Shah who has, allegedly (aah..how I love that word!), blood in his hands and yet holds one of the highest positions in the ruling party.
But then again, money & development triumphs lives, so it is befitting that a case for corruption is viewed with much more seriousness than that of a ruthless massacre.