The congregation of Jayalalithaa's supporters outside the central prison here has thinned considerably since she was jailed on September 27.
In the first three days after the ex Tamil Nadu CM's conviction, at least a thousand AIADMK workers kept up a 12 hour daily vigil. The weather and the mosquitoes appear to have eroded their determination as less than 100 supporters were in attendance on Sunday.
They follow a strict pecking order - MLAs and MPs sit in the relative comfort of a makeshift tent as district and city council level leaders squat on the pavement outside the prison. Ordinary workers are stopped by the police at barricades, 500 metres away.Those who have stayed see their vigil as the ultimate proof of their loyalty. "The true colours of many people is showing now," says MLA K E Krishnamurthy of those who have not camped outside prison. He claims that many party leaders are making use of this chance to go sightseeing in Bangalore.
What's the point of waiting outside prison, one may ask. After all, Jayalalithaa has not met a single leader from her party since she was jailed.
"She knows all and she is watching all. She is testing our devotion," says party MP Navaneethakrishnan, who has been camping here throughout. One of his men even suggests that Jayalalithaa has supernatural powers.
One senior leader, V N Sunderajan, requests this reporter to arrange a meeting with the police commissioner. "I want to request him to arrest me in some petty case and put me in the same jail so that I can assist Amma," he says in all seriousness. Sunderajan says he has been fasting for the last four days.
None of her die hard supporters are even willing to consider another setback when her appeal comes up before the Karnataka High Court on Tuesday. All of them behave like O Panneerselvam's elevation never happened and still refer to Jayalalithaa as the Chief Minister.
"As long as the AIADMK is in power, Amma will be Tamil Nadu CM," declares Krishnamurthy, drawing a cheer from those around.