For her emotionally overwrought followers, this is the worst possible news. On Tuesday the Karnataka High Court rejected AIADMK leader and former Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalithaa’s bail plea in connection to a Rs 66.65 crore disproportionate assets case. In the past 10 days that Jayalalithaa has been in jail Tamil Nadu has witnessed the most sycophantic outpourings of love for her. The AIADMK cadre has held protests — from hunger strikes to ‘Mannu Soru’ (eating food from the ground) to human chains — have disrupted public life and even destroyed public property. The fact that the court has come to its conclusion after having examined all the evidence seems lost on Amma’s followers. Tamil Nadu is no stranger to over-the-top displays of love and admiration for its leaders. In 1987, when then CM MG Ramachandran died, around 30 people committed suicide. But the current protests are not going to produce any favourable result as the court is not going to take notice of the antics of the followers. The protesters who are demanding her release and saying that the case is politically motivated are doing a singular disservice to the judiciary, which has acted without fear or favour.
Even if we were to pass off the people’s protests as ‘spontaneous’ reactions of affection for Amma, there is no excuse for the way the state government is handling the situation. Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, after taking office, has done precious little to bring any semblance of normalcy to the state. While he is in Chennai many of his Cabinet colleagues are in Bangalore. An elected government has a duty to discharge its duties, not be in mourning for a leader who has been found guilty of corruption. The state machinery is being subtly used to provoke reactions — like the move by a group of educational institutions to remain closed on Tuesday to show solidarity with Amma. Reacting to a PIL, the Madras High Court ordered that all schools and colleges must remain open, a damning indictment of the administration’s failure. Posters threatening to hold Kannadigas hostage if Amma is not released show how the police’s soft approach to protests has encouraged these people. That these posters had the names of various AIADMK leaders will only egg these protestors on.
There are pressing concerns that the state administration has to address — like the looming power crisis. If Mr Panneerselvam and the AIADMK are not able to run the government without its leader, maybe they should approach the governor, because the state cannot come to a standstill just because its leaders are overcome by emotion.