There is a popular saying about the law of KARMA, ” What goes around, eventually comes around”. After many debates and speculations about political future of Tamil Nadu, this morning greeted us with an interesting news. A Supreme Court bench, comprising of Justices PC Ghose and Amitava Roy convicted Chief Minister-in-waiting VS Sasikala, General Secretary AIADMK, in a 21-year-old “disproportionate assets” case. This case was filed by the BJP leader Subramanian Swamy (then Janta Party president ) against Jayalalithaa and Sasikala in 1996.
It is noteworthy to mention that deceased CM Jayalalithaa too has been found guilty. Sasikala, along with her sister-in-law Ilavarasi and nephew VN Sudhakaran , are found guilty of helping then Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa in amassing illicit wealth over 60 crores in 1990s.
Previously a trial court had sentenced VS Sasikala a 10-year jail term, of which she has already served a little over 6 years. Thereafter, Karnataka High Court had granted her relief in its judgement which is now overruled today by the Supreme Court of India.
The apex court upheld the decision of the trial court without any change. This historical decision has certain immediate effects:
1. Sasikala must serve remaining 4 years of her jail term.
2. She is barred from becoming a legislator. She cannot become Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu.
3. Even after serving 4 years of jail, she’ll continue to be ineligible for contesting any election for further 6 years.
4. For the 61 year old ‘Chinamma’ (as Sasikala is popularly called by supporters ) , this judgement nixes her political dreams for next 10 years (4+6) .
Though the internal tussle started with Jayalalithaa’s death, it came to public notice last Wednesday when VS Sasikala virtually locked 100 AIADMK legislators in a luxurious beach resort on East Coast Road, Chennai.
The stage was set for Sasikala to take up the Chief Minister post after removing O Panneerselvam.
But today’s verdict from the apex court jolted her ambitions. It was initially thought that Panneerselvam shall now have a smooth road for proving majority. But the dramatic turn of events did not cease here. Sasikala, as a last attempt to assert herself, sacked Panneerselvam from primary membership of AIADMK and declared her loyalist “Edappadi K Palaniswami” as the Chief Minister candidate for Tamil Nadu. Palaniswami has already claimed majority and has forwarded the letters of support from legislators to Governor C Vidyasagar Rao. Meanwhile , Panneerselvam tried reaching to the resort where MLAs were camping but was stopped by police midway . Governor is yet to come out with any decision.
No matter whether O Panneerselvam or Edappadi becomes the new CM of Tamil Nadu, people of the state are going to have a tough time ahead. The economy of Tamil Nadu is drought hit and under huge debt pile. This 6th most populous state of India has seen decades of personality cult politics rather than ideology based politics. Popularistic policies of rolling “freebies” employed by MG Ramachandran to Jayalalitha has left a debt bomb on the state. Previous 5 years of Jayalalitha witnessed a rise of 105% in debt on the state. Today , Tamil Nadu is under a debt of Rs. 2.35 lakh crores. It saw a Gross Fiscal Deficit of Rs. 31, 830 crores in 2015-16 , highest among all states in India. It’s unlikely that future Chief Minister will show any change in policy. It’s expected that “freebie” policies like that of “AMMA” shall continue.
AIADMK has 135 seats out of total 235 assembly seats of Tamil Nadu . Sasikala camp enjoys support of 120+ MLAs which is sufficient to prove majority in the house. Things might take interesting turn if ADMK with 89 MLAs decides to back Paneerselvam who too has few loyalists inside AIADMK. Till then, BJP should keep a close eye on every single development. In case of any opportunity, past friendship between PM Modi and superstar Rajnikant should be capitalised.