Sasikala's conviction is triumph of rule of law

Apoorva Pathak
Apoorva PathakFeb 14, 2017 | 12:58

Sasikala's conviction is triumph of rule of law

After days of intense political speculation about the fate of Sasikala in more than a decade old disproportionate assets case, the much awaited judgment of the Supreme Court, with far reaching implications for Tamil Nadu politics, is finally out.

The highest court of the land has convicted Sasikala, upholding the trial court order. It has asked her to surrender immediately to complete the remainder of her four-year term.

The conviction of Sasikala is a direly needed salvation for a polity that has been bruised by unsavoury scenes playing out in Tamil Nadu for the past few weeks. 

Be you ever so high, the law is above you

Sasikala is among the most powerful people in Tamil Nadu. Ministers bowed before her, MLAs made a beeline for her. Having been a close aide of the iconic Jayalalithaa, Sasikala's political power is the stuff of many a whisper. Her power is not only political, it is also economical.

Sasikala and her family control many multi-million dollar businesses, most remarkably, Midas distilleries - the entity that is the biggest supplier of alcohol to Tamil Nadu government's liquor distribution firm.

She is also said to have been instrumental in appointments at different levels of the state administration. All those cynical about prospects of justice in India would have bet that a woman so powerful was untouchable. 

Yet, despite all her political, administrative and financial clout, Sasikala has still been made accountable for her crimes. Hers is a conviction that makes ordinary folk believe that justice may be delayed but it cannot be avoided. It holds out the message loud and clear - "be you ever so high, the law is above you".

A resurgent O Panneerselvam is making an increasingly successful bid for power. (Photo: PTI)

Attempt to hijack people's will now stands foiled

The conviction of Sasikala also puts an end to her bid to become the CM of Tamil Nadu. Over the past week, it had become increasingly clear that the people of the state didn't want her as their leader.

Yet, Sasikala had persisted in her attempt to hijack the will of the people and, before the verdict came, despite some dissent, it appeared that she had managed to procure the support of AIADMK MLAs and show how powerless the people were against the power games of their elite representatives.

But how things change! Sasikala, the powerful resident of Poes Garden, is now legally forbidden from being CM for the next ten years. The people of Tamil Nadu will not have to put up with someone they didn't elect and didn't have confidence in.

This will reduce the prospects of disillusionment among voters who would have been disgusted had Sasikala become CM against the popular wish. And as democracy requires that people have confidence in its institutions and processes, we certainly are better off without risking such mass disillusionment.

Promote inner party democracy within AIADMK and avoids potential void in polity

Even when Sasikala had not become CM and consolidated her grip on power, she had shown how, with her as relying on the cult of Jayalalithaa as the foundation of her power, AIADMK would not have inner-party democracy as long as Sasikala ruled.

The locking of MLAs, with dissenter having to hide and use covert means to escape, made it clear how she would rule, with an iron fist and by instilling fear in her legislators and intimidating them into submission .

But with her hold significantly weak with this conviction and a resurgent O Panneerselvam making an increasingly successful bid for power, the equation within the AIADMK is set to change and become more even.

Panneerselvam or any other person who now becomes CM will just be the first among equals and not an overly powerful tyrant lording over the party and government.

Moreover, with a less unpopular person as CM, the likelihood of existential threat to AIADMK due to massive public backlash now stands reduced.

This is another positive fallout, as a weakened and hated government for the next four years, in an important state like Tamil Nadu, is the last thing India needs.

Last updated: February 14, 2017 | 12:58
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