Indeed, it is the first time that a sitting chief minister of an Indian state has been found guilty and sentenced under the Prevention of Corruption Act. If nothing, the verdict comes as a reminder to politicians that they are not immune to the long arm of the judiciary, and that it does have the capability to catch up, albeit slowly.
Unless the Supreme Court overturns the judgment upon appeal, Jayalalithaa is at the verge of a 10-year political oblivion, as she cannot contest elections for six years after completing her four-year prison sentence.
Ever since the AIADMK routed the DMK in April 2011, it had been enjoying a winning spree in all elections. Such was the confidence of the party that Jaya-for-PM posters had sprung up across Chennai during the prime ministerial race. The party even won 37 out of the 39 seats in the state, emerging as the third largest unit in parliament.
The verdict is all but a knockout punch for the ruling AIADMK and a shot in the arm for the DMK camp. Jayalalithaa, however, is known for her political resilience. Earlier too, she had to step down as chief minister in 2001 after the Supreme Court ruled that she cannot hold office due to her conviction in two graft cases. After she lost in the 2006 state elections, she led the AIADMK to a landslide victory, taking 147 of the 160 seats it contested. The verdict is certain to have an impact over Jayalalithaa’s popularity, but the only thing that remains to be seen is how she handles it.
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