Jayalalithaa is no more a Mudal Amaichar, chief minister, but for her countless devotees and party workers, she is a Makkal Mudalavar, people’s chief minister, which they consider far above the post she lost after a court convicted her of corruption.
She was referred to as Makkal Mudalavar in a report telecast by Jaya TV. As it rolls easy on the tongue, her supporters have begun to call her by this title.
“This is going to stick and people are going to refer to her by this name only,” said a political science professor at a government college, wishing anonymity.
The coinage indicates the faith of party workers and leaders, who have been protesting since Saturday when Jayalalithaa’s taken to a jail in Bangalore.
On Wednesday morning, her supporters were hopeful of her release, but their hopes were dashed when the Karnataka High Court adjourned the hearing on her bail application.
The disappointment was expressed in varying degrees across the state in all kinds of protests by people from different walks of life.
Fishermen, men, women, students and even children came out on the streets to show their solidarity with Jayalalithaa and demand her immediate release.
In many places shops were shut, despite the festive season.
Fishermen in coastal districts did not go out to sea for the second consecutive day.
Anger was the most common of emotions of the AIADMK supporters – but this was being expressed in a silent manner, unlike the violence that was unleashed on Saturday
“How can a human punish our god,” screamed one poster in Tamil with the picture of Jayalalithaa in the forefront. AIADMK men and women thronged temples in different districts to propitiate gods and seek their intervention for their leader’s release.
At Rameshwaram, a large group of priests stood waist-deep in sea, chanting prayers to appease Lord Shiva to remove any curse plaguing Jayalalithaa. It is believed that once the curse is broken, she would be free.
Posters with Amma’s pictures sprung up at many temples where special prayers were held.
In Churches across the state, candles were lit and prayers performed for her release.
Jayalalithaa was sentenced to four years in jail and slapped with Rs 100 crore fine after being found guilty of corruption by a special court in Bangalore on Saturday. The ruling in an 18-year-old disproportionate assets case dealt a blow to the 66-year-old AIADMK chief, disqualifying her as CM and effectively putting her out of the electoral arena for 10 years.
According to provisions of the Representation of the People Act, a convicted person cannot contest elections for six years beginning from the date of completion of sentence.
There could, however, still be hope for Jayalalithaa because there is an escape route. The Supreme Court has said a convicted person can contest an election if his/her conviction and sentence both are stayed by a superior court.