It took 21 years for the Indian Judicial system to pronounce the late Chief Minister of Tamilnadu J Jayalalitha guilty of accumulation of assets disproportionate to her income. Justice delayed (till after Jayalalitha’s death) was justice denied and the people of Tamilnadu suffered all around during this period which saw two full terms with Jayalalitha as Chief Minister. And the people of Tamilnadu now have a coterie of looters at the helm to decide their lives for four more years.
The judgement delivered by Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose in the DA case against Jayalalitha, A 1, her confidante Sasikala and two of her close relatives reads “we come to the conclusion that A1to A4 have entered into a conspiracy and in furtherance of the same, A1 who was a public servant at the relevant time had come into possession of assets disproportionate to the known sources of her income during the check period and had got the same dispersed in the names of A2 to A4 and the firms & companies involved to hold these on her behalf with a masked front. Furthermore, the charge of abetment laid against A2 to A4 in the commission of the offence by A1 also stands proved”. A1 in his case is the public servant – clearly Jayalalitha – who is held guilty of corruption. Although she is dead and cannot therefore be jailed, a fine of Rs100 crore will have be collected by disposing of her properties which are listed in the case. It is the responsibility of the present government in the state which is repeatedly saying that it will follow the path of Jayalalitha and Sasikala to dispose the said properties and realize the fine. Having seen the track record of this case for the past 21 years shows that we can only expect another long drawn legal process.
Since 2016 September when Jayalalitha was admitted in the hospital, BJP with its power in the center was aggressively making all possible efforts to fish in troubled waters to improve its presence and profile in the state. After Jayalalitha’s death BJP got a better hold on the affairs in Tamilnadu. After Uttarkhand and Arunachal Pradesh, BJP employed its tactics of intervening through the governor in Tamilnadu too which has led to a delay in forming government and a split in the ruling party.
The danger of BJP gaining traction in Tamilnadu politics cannot be overlooked. Other than left parties and Congress in the state almost all ruling class parties of Tamilnadu have formed alliance with BJP in one election or the other, which has helped BJP in gaining a foothold in the state. During Jayalalitha’s hospitalization, Coimbatore and Tirupur districts of the state were almost under the control of RSS forces in the state which were successful in orchestrating attacks on Muslim properties. There are pro-DMK, pro-AIADMK and to a certain extent pro-RSS IAS and IPS officers in the state. Tamilnadu police allowed the saffron vandalism and remained a spectator.BJP was successful in testing its fascist agenda in the state though not as it is experimenting in the northern states of the country but in the ways that are suitable in the state. In the recent Jallikattu protest too NGOs backed by RSS and modern godmen played a role. Now the Sangh Parivar making inroads in the soil of Periyar and we have the RSS Prime Minister Narendra Modi set to inaugurate a 112 feet Siva statue built by violating environmental restrictions.
The present Chief Minister K Palanisami is from the dominant caste of the western districts of the state which hounded Perumal Murugan, which terrorise youth who chose inter-caste marriages, which planned the murder of Gokulraj and which forced the young dalit IPS officer Vishnupriya who was investigating Golkuraj murder, to commit suicide. He has assured the people of Tamilnadu that he would follow the footsteps of Jayalalitha who is now declared by the SC as guilty of the corruption charges. Though this case is about the corruption in the period 1991 – 1996, the other two terms headed by Jayalalitha have been known for all-round corruption and they have succeeded in making corruption a way of life for the vested interests. Whether it is Panneerselvam or Sasikala or Palanisami, they were all scheming together in this unprecedented loot of all resources of the state. This coterie of looters cannot be allowed to lead the government in the state.
On February 18, when Palanisami was seeking confidence vote for his government and the assembly witnessed unruly scenes, a farmer of Nagapattinam district jumped before a speeding train and got himself crushed to death. The withering crops did not give him any hope to repay his debts. Before him over two hundred farmers of the state fell victims to the severe agrarian crisis in the state and either committed suicide or succumbed to pressure seeing the withering crops and mounting debts. MNREGA wages are not paid for the agricultural laborers for many months now. Universal PDS of Tamilnadu is systematically and gradually ruined by the state. Anti-people measures of the central government are gradually being implemented in the state. There are other burning issues which are waiting to be addressed. But almost since hospitalization of Jayalalitha, for over six months, the powers that be have managed to divert focus from the people’s issues and project the crisis of the ruling party of the state as the crisis of people and people were forced to sit before their televisions and watch the twists and turns before a government was formed. In other words, the ruling party MLAs have made it amply clear that they are after power and subsequent loot and that their purpose is anything but welfare of the people. Now the opposition leader M K Stalin is trying to oust Paneerselvam from the opposition space with dramatics in the Assembly.
Technically speaking this government can continue for another four years but this government was formed basically on the mandate given by people for Jayalalitha. When Jayalalitha is pronounced guilty, the government formed on the basis of the mandate given for her cannot continue morally as she is now held guilty of graft charges. In the present conditions the right to form a government just on the basis of numbers will not fulfill democratic norms as democracy is not only by the people but also for the people.
The Chief Minister should resign and recommend for fresh elections – elections in which progressive and democratic forces must strive to bring substantial people’s issues to the fore and usher in a progressive shift and a new chapter in Tamilnadu politics.