AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa's loyalists, including all her ministers, have spent the past several weeks making rounds of different temples in Tamil Nadu praying for her acquittal in the disproportionate assets case .
All eyes are now on the Karnataka high court where justice CR Kumaraswamy on Monday will pronounce his decision on Jayalalithaa's appeal against her conviction in the Rs 66.64 crore disproportionate assets case by a Bengaluru trial court which sentenced her to 4 years in jail and slapped a fine of Rs 100 crore.
Jayalalithaa, along with aides N Sasikala, VN Sudhakaran and J Elasvarasi, was held guilty of holding unaccounted for income during her tenure as chief minister from 1991-96 by the trial court last year.
On Sunday, the intensity and scale of the prayers reached a peak with all her ministers, senior party colleagues and well-wishers conducting special pujas at temples across the state.
While 10,000 girls carried pots over their heads offering 5,000 litre of milk to the presiding deity, in another temple for Bhadrakali a Chandi yagyam was performed seeking divine help in mitigating Jayalalithaa's legal troubles.
While the AIADMK has been hoping that their leader will come clean in the "trumped up case", the demoralised and fractured opposition has sensed an opportunity and is equally tense.
Almost all the temples in the state, were overflowing with AIADM men attired in the trademark starch white lungis and shirts, enlisting the services of all the powerful deities offering special prayers to get the divine forces on Jayalalithaa's side.
At Karur, 1 lakh and 8 lamps were lit to seek the blessings of Lord Sri Kalyana Pasupati and 1008 coconuts were also offered. At Tiruvalluvar's Bhadrakali temple, AIADMK men organised a powerful Chandi yagyam for the "destruction of the enemies of Amma".
They were also present at Kancheepuram's Madurai Meenakshi temple, Erode's Murugan temple, Tiruchi's Varasidha Anjaneyar temple, Sivagangai Nageswara temple and at a temple in Hosur, which is located a few kilometres from the central prison at Paraappanna Agrahara in Bengaluru.
They also prayed at Varasidha Anjaneyar temple in Srirangam, the constituency which Jayalalithaa represented before she was unseated after her conviction, paving the way for O Panneerselvam.
A negative verdict in the Karnataka HC will mean a major setback for Jayalalithaa, whose legal team is said to have readied a contingency plan for this eventuality. It will also be a big challenge politically as the assembly elections are due now in less than a year.
An adverse judgment is what the down in the dumps opposition, especially after Jayalalithaa swept the 2014 general elections with 37 out of 39 Lok Sabha seats, is praying for.
Sensing an opportunity, opposition leaders have begun to jostle for space to position themselves in the right place and have begun making moves to tap into new alliances.
While the Congress is trying to get closer to the DMK, which had walked out of the alliance ahead of assembly elections in 2011, its leader MK Stalin has already mounted an attack on the "invisible government" and poor governance by chief minister Panneerselvam.
In an open letter to the chief minister, Stalin said, "Today Tamil Nadu is in the ICU and its vital signs are a cause for extreme concern."
There appears be no government in place ever since Jayalalithaa was convicted, said another DMK leader.
Echoing similar views, DMDK leader Captain Vijayakanth sought to position himself as a viable alternative and chief ministerial candidate in the next assembly polls and wants the BJP to accept his leadership.
DMK spokesperson TKS Elangovan is convinced that the arguments put forward by Jayalalithaa's defence lawyers have failed to establish her innocence, AIADMK spokesperson Avadi Kumar is hopeful of a positive result.
A verdict in Jayalalithaa's favour will certainly be a big boost to her as well as the AIADMK and there are chances that she could go in for fresh polls riding on the positive impact of a favourable verdict, sources said.
"With a verdict in her favour, she will become unbeatable," said a political analyst from Madras University.
Jayalalithaa's loyalists, meanwhile, are pouring into Chennai reaching her residence at posh Poes Gardens in the heart of the city and to the Bangalore high court.
In view of the violence unleashed by the AIADMK supporters when she was convicted by the trial court, police and security agencies are taking no changes and have strengthened police presence in all sensitive areas in Chennai and across Tamil Nadu.
In Bengaluru, authorities have made elaborate arrangements to handle crowds expected to congregate for the judgment day. Bengaluru police commissioner MN Reddi has clamped prohibitory orders within a radius of 1 km of the high court from 6am. to 9pm.Even the special public prosecutor, BV Acharya, has been given special protection with the deployment of armed policemen at his residence.
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