JAYALALITHAA’S FINAL JOURNEY: SHADES OF MOURNING

Jayalalithaa’s life and final journey – when everything comes to connote some symbolism – for them who really mourn – for them who try to mourn – and for them who do no not even try to mourn!

Mourning – this is one human emotion that is free of any cultural context.

When your inner self asks you to cry, you cry. You don’t have to put efforts there.

Yes, it may be loud or you may simply travel so deep inside that you get disconnected from the world.

Your face speaks. Your eyes have tales. Your body responds.

And that is a symbol of true love, committed feelings, genuine care – something that is rare to come by in these times – be it J. Jayalalithaa, the massively popular but lonley Tamil Nadu’s chief minister who died yesterday and was laid to rest today..

Or a commoner like you and me.

What goes in favour of us that we have a family to speak for us when we are no more there but people like Jayalalithaa, though they matter for millions because they care for them and try to reach out to them materially, have no one to really care about after they have departed..

Love/care/commitment – such emotions suck at times like this.

It was on display, at a massive level during Jayalalithaa’s funeral today. Without taking the risk of sounding cynical, we can say that most who present in there during her final rites and burial had this or that social/political equation in mind.

Yes, there were aggrieved masses but who cares for them after her. They were crying and it was real because she tried to reach out to them in a country where the poverty line still hovers around Rs. 1000 a month and where the world’s maximum count of poor people reside.

Otherwise she lived a materialistically comfortable life with ruthless political finesse and didn’t bother to go her own way away from even her political mentor (remember the 1984 episode of her widening rift with MGR). But love is a strange thing – and sometimes, rift in relations is a part of it. She was buried besides her that mentor only as per her last wish.

It is said in death we are all alone. It is metaphorical but with Jayalalithaa’s last rites today, it was evident why this statement gets practical at times – the shades of mourning during her 75 day in the hospital and the last 24 hours are more than enough to tell us that.

©SantoshChaubey

A RAINY D-DAY: WOULD AMMA EMERGE A ‘BAAHUBALI’?

It was just six months ago when J Jayalalithaa, the chief minister of Tamil Nadu, miserably failed in addressing the destructive rains and floods that wreaked havoc in many parts of the state including Tamil Nadu’s capital Chennai.

Though Tamil Nadu was not the only South Indian state to face the rain aftermath then, with Andhra Pradesh also badly affected, the real worry was in Tamil Nadu – where Chennai saw the worst rainfall and flooding in 100 years. And the situation was not much different in many other parts.

To the scale that even Jayalalithaa’s ‘Baahubali’ avatar couldn’t save the state – even if Amma, as Jayalalithaa is affectionately called, tried hard to do – with her larger than life presence – on hoardings, on banners, on posters, on every sort of relief material including the food items.

‘Baahubali’ that translates to ‘muscleman or strongman’ is one of the most successful movies produced by the Indian film industry last year.

Last November-December, when Tamil Nadu was reeling under the miles high devastation of the flood aftermath, Jayalalithaa’s huge Baahubali hoardings cropped up, showing an all powerful Amma carrying a baby away from the horrors of the rain.

No need to say that was in bad taste – and attracted every sort of criticism and satire.

But that could not dim the prospects of a South Indian politics obsessed with film stars and personality cults.

Jayalalithaa has continued with her mission to make Tamil Nadu ‘Amma Nadu’, a state synonymous with her nickname. There are Amma baby kits. There are Amma canteens. A bottled water is brand named Amma. The list is long – Amma salt, Amma seeds, Amma pharmacies, Amma home appliances, even Amma cement and laptop – and this list is not exhaustive.

The way it has spread in Tamil Nadu in the last five years makes one feel that Jayalalithaa is going to rule Tamil Nadu for a long time, breaking the trend of consistent power transfer in the state, from AIADMK to DMK and vice versa, in subsequent elections.

We all felt so.

Many of us still feel so, even if there is a group that feels DMK has now fair chances to defeat Amma. Even some exit polls say so. If that indeed happens, the mishandling of the last year floods would be a major cause in this.

Tomorrow is the D Day when the results would be out.

And Tamil Nadu is again staring at massive rains. In fact, according to reports, Chennai received maximum rainfall in a day since 1995. Then there is a cyclone alert for Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. Teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and senior and junior level officials have been deployed to handle the aftermath.

But the million dollar question is – would voters give Amma another chance to ‘do or undo’ what she had done during the floods last year?

Another way to look at that is – if Amma wins the polls tomorrow – it would say Amma’s Baahubali act indeed established a connect with her supporters.

And that would further hasten the ‘Amma-fication’ of Tamil Nadu.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

’68’, AMMA AND TAMIL NADU: BAAHUBALI TO ‘AMMA’NADU

“68 is the natural number following 67 and preceding 69. It is an even number.” – that is what the Wikipedia page on the number 68 says. There is nothing much else on the page except some technical information that, for most, is like filling a page entry somehow.

And here comes this development in this time of need. The editors or writers of the page should take note of the dominance of the number ’68’ in Tamil Nadu now – to put some interesting stuff there (on the page) – as the number has become the most important symbol of a populous Indian state – with wide display today.

Today is the day when ’68’ has become synonymous with Tamil Nadu – a state of some ’68’ million people – a state, that in turn, gives feelers that it has become synonymous with J. Jayalalithaa, its chief minister since her sweeping re-election in 2011 and her comeback to the throne in May 2015 after the Karnataka High Court acquitted her in the disproportionate assets case.

Jayalalithaa had assumed the office for the third term in 2011 and since then her party AIADMK has swept every election in Tamil Nadu including the last Lok Sabha polls in 2014. And it is when her DA case is decades old and it was not the first time in 2014 when she was disqualified and barred from the political office. Something similar had happened in 2001 when she was barred from contesting the polls after she was found guilty in the TANSI land deal case which was overturned later.

When we see the political history of Tamil Nadu – it has been between these two parties – DMK and AIADMK – and time has been fair about listening to both of these parties.

But, it seems the Amma times are here to stay this time. It is being expected that AIADMK will be able to decimate every opposition in the upcoming assembly polls later this year.

And its echoes are already here – with the ascendance that the number ’68’ saw today.

Let’s see the colourful elements:

The first and the foremost things is the great coincident – Jayalalithaa at ’68’ has a Tamil Nadu of some ’68’ million people.

Tamil Nadu, (it seems the whole state), is celebrating Jayalalithaa’s birthday in a grand style – in an electoral year – (obviously we all can see through the acts and through the kaleidoscope) – but here we are talking about the colours.

AIADMK workers and supporters organized functions for ’68’ mass-wedding ceremonies across the state. The couples wore an interesting headgear with Amma’s photograph like a crown jewel.

At AIADMK office in Chennai, a ’68’ Kg cake was cut. Huge cakes were prepared in different parts of Chennai and in the state.

’68’ lakh trees were to be planted across the state. Reports further said that these saplings were to be planted in ‘6868’ temples across the 32 districts of Tamil Nadu.

’68’ medical camps were organized and blood donation drives were held across the state.

Special ‘poojas’ were performed in 122 temples across the state to pray for the long life of Amma. Special cow worship and cow donation drives were held. Women members of AIDMK performed a ‘pooja’ – carrying milk pots on head while visiting temples and praying.

All Amma canteens of Chennai served free meals today. Across the state, community lunches were organized.

Cleaning of water bodies across the state was carried out. South Indian Film Chamber of Commerce donated lamps.

It was announced that every girl child born today in every hospital run by the Chennai city corporation would be given a donation of Rs. 10,000.

An AIADMK lawmaker announced that he would ‘gift’ gold ring to every child born today in North Chennai.

Some AIADMK leaders presented before us adventurous shows of floating on water while praying for Amma’s long life.

AIADMK leaders and Jayalalithaa supporters made it a point to flaunt Jayalalithaa tattoos – with her face, name or taglines carved.

Distribution of Amma brand of products were done free of cost across the state – with Amma soaps, Amma shampoo and other products on display. Goodies like sewing machines, television sets, sarees, dhotis, school notebooks, etc., were donated liberally.

Rallies were held across the state with huge fireworks planned for the evening.

And this is when Jayalalithaa didn’t make any personal appearance today. She didn’t come out and say thanks to her followers and fans.

Amazing! Subtle! God like! The celebrations are expected to last till weekend. But expect the continued run in the context of the electoral symbolism of all these activities.

Jayalalithaa’s 68th birthday made Tamil Nadu – ‘Amma Nadu’. Jayalalithaa’s party has tried to scale ‘her cult’ from ‘momentous to monumental’ – from her ‘Baahubali’ incarnation during the Chennai floods of November-December last year – floods that had battered the whole state badly – killing over 500 people – rains and floods that are considered among the costliest natural disaster of 2015.

Welcome to the kaleidoscope the South Indian politics is – totally person centric – going to the extent even to erect temples and offer worship.

The number ’68’ had never things going so good – to offer so much – so much to brag about – so much to write about. The Wikipedia editors must take this into consideration and act immediately.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

CHENNAI FLOODS: SHOCKING ‘AMMA’ DISPLAY!

What else one can say after watching these photographs in media and social media on Chennai floods (and Tamil Nadu floods), and that too, when death toll in India’s one of metropolitan cities has already crossed 500 mark (and expect a higher figures when things clear out). Add to it the loss in other rain affected cities of Tamil Nadu.

When prime minister Narendra Modi was there in Chennai and was announcing relief measures, after his aerial survey, one could easily see how Jayalaithaa, the Tamil Nadu chief minister, who found herself standing behind the prime minter (in the background), moved some steps forward to stand parallel to the prime minister (in full view of camera lenses).

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

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JAYALALITHAA AGAIN: IT WAS MATTER OF ‘WHEN’ ONLY

It was matter of ‘when’ only and it came today.

J. Jayalalithaa became the chief minister of Tamil Nadu again. And she is stronger this time, than her absolute victory in 2011 assembly polls and an even performance in 2014 Lok Sabha polls. In 2011, she won 150 out of 234 assembly seats. DMDK was a distant second with 29 sears. DMK could win just 23 seats. In 2014 LS polls, extending the winning streak of 2011, her party AIADMK won 37 of 39 seats.

Yes, the disproportionate assets case that has derailed her juggernaut has still life if it is pursued in the Supreme Court but the Karnataka government and her political opponents are yet to make up their minds in spite of debating the matter in the media.

Probably she took her time, from May 11, the day of her acquittal by the Karnataka High Court, to further handle such issues before taking the reins of the state again, for the fifth time. Her first public appearance came only yesterday when she met the Tamil Nadu Governor K. Rosaiah to stake claims again.

She was convicted by a Bangalore court last September in a DA case and was imprisoned for four years and Rs. 100 crore fine. It led to her disqualification till the decision on her appeal by the Karnataka High Court. The case had to be shifted out of Tamil Nadu and the decision had come after 18 years.

Like September 2001, when Jayalalithaa was barred from holding the chief-ministerial post after she was found guilty in cases including the TANSI land deal, her trusted aide and the current Finance Minister O. Panneerselvam was made the chief minister again, even if ‘temporarily’. On both occasions, he did not enter the chief minister’s office.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi greeted her on her swearing-in. He was there in 2011 as the Gujarat’s chief minister when she took the office for the fourth time. The PMO Twitter handle tweeted – “PM @narendramodi congratulates Jayalalithaa ji on taking oath as CM of Tamil Nadu and conveys his best wishes to her & her team.”

He had also congratulated her on her acquittal from the Karnataka HC in the DA case. A Union Minister of the BJP was present there today. Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu sent his wishes. Clearly, Jayalalithaa knows how imperative she is for the Centre for floor management exercise of the Indian Parliament where the BJP is in underwhelming minority in the upper house, the Rajya Sabha. In turn, a friendly tie with a strong prime minister and majority Union Government can be very helpful, especially when elections are just a year away.

It will be interesting to see the further political developments in the state where elections are less than a year away. ‘Amma’ (mother, as she if fondly called) is back after her exoneration from a higher court and she will exploit both the gains now – the ‘pluses’ of exoneration that come after her ‘victimization’ in the DA case.

Tamil Nadu’s ‘who’s who’ including Rajinikanth, Sharat Kumar, N. Srinivasan and A. C. Muthaiah were present during the grand oath-taking ceremony in the Centenary Auditorium of Madras University. Jaya’s fans were shouting slogans and were looking to get a glimpse of their leader. Giant screens at different places were broadcasting the event live.

The oath-ceremony today should be seen from the political perspective of a state assembly election that is to be held around April 2916. And therefore, it was all in the grand style of the South Indian politics – especially of Tamil Nadu.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

FINDING JUSTICE: A HERCULEAN TASK, EVEN A MIRAGE FOR SOME

Salman and Jayalalithaa may walk free in finality but we will keep asking questions.

Well, legal recourse is a costly thing in this country and how it serves the purpose of the high and mighty is clear, first from Salman Khan’s hit and run case, and then in J. Jayalalithaa’s disproportionate assets case.

In both cases, the trial in lower courts dragged on for years. 13 years in Salman’s case and 18 years in Jayalalithaa’s case.

Salman got interim bail on the same day of conviction and got his sentence suspended and full-time bail on the very second day of his conviction.

Jayalalithaa got bail on 21st day of her conviction by the lower court (bail from the Supreme Court) and in 8 months, got it overturned in the Karnataka High Court, the High Court that had denied her bail when she had approached it on 10th of her conviction.

Bombay High Court will now hear Salman’s case with claimed testimonies that were not taken into account by the prosecution at the lower court. Salman is a big star, probably the biggest mass star today. He is a changed man now and he also runs a charity that works well.

And irrespective of what the law says, what his past and present say and what the courts say, the changed perception about him, with all his resources, will a play major role here.

With Jayalalithaa, the Supreme Court will hear her acquittal next (if challenged). O Paneerselvam, Jayalalithaa’s trusted aid and the current chief minister of Tamil Nadu, who took over from Jayalalithaa after she was sentenced by the lower court, has offered his resignation, as the sources say and the best battery of lawyers including a legal luminary will represent the next Tamil Nadu chief minister (in natural circumstances) in the Supreme Court.

Though Jayalalithaa is yet to make a public appearance, she is sure to take over from her trusted aide of all seasons. She sees herself as the ‘gold refined by fire’ even if her opponents find mathematical discrepancies in the High Court judgment in ‘calculating’ her income.

The legal luminaries involved in these cases would cost crores that someone with deep pockets like a Salman Khan or J. Jayalalithaa can well afford.

Serious cases have their range in thousands (of Rs) in lower courts. The very cases in High Courts turn to cost you in lakhs. And in case of Supreme Court, even a single hearing involving these legal luminaries may run into lakhs or tens of lakhs. Even an unheard lawyer of the Supreme Court would cost around a lakh for Special Leave Petition for a single appearance in the apex court of India.

Filing a case of serious nature and fighting it seriously in Indian courts, with multilayered corruption and shoddy professional integrity, would cost you dearly. A good battery of lawyers including legal luminaries of this country can complicate any case to the extent that it takes years before the case reaches to any conclusion.

Those who can afford fighting a case though its different layers, demands and years, stay in the league to get the decision while those who cannot, i.e., the majority of this country, bow out in the process.

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Featured image courtesy: Images sources from websites of Being Human, AIADMK and e-Court project, Government of India

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

A STAR, A BIG POLITICIAN AND GLIMPSES OF KNOWN IRONY

First it was a celebrity actor, dear to millions, a big personality with a wide acceptability and every mean was available to him to used the best of the legal minds.

Then it was a national level politician, a de facto chief minister of a state, dear to her voters who count in millions and she, too, had access to every legal mind she wanted available to.

From Friday, May 8 to Monday, May 11, it is just three days and we are raising questions, like never before, once again.

In both cases, higher courts seem to reject the decision of lower courts. We have an assumption in case of lower courts, that in spite of the big names, lower courts usually deliver a tough verdict in serious and highlighted cases.

There are various reasons behind it including an adverse entry by a senior judge in case there is shoddy delivery of judgment.

The reason behind that assumption suffered a serious setback with these two cases.

In Salman Khan’s hit and run case, the court proceedings dragged on for 13 years. He was delivered a sentence of five years for killing a person a injuring four others when he lost control of his car in a drunk state of mind. Within few hours, the high court granted him interim bail and within two days, suspended the sentence of the lower court and granted him bail raising questions on the judgement itself.

I remember reading an IANS report before his sentencing by the lower court which said, quoting film industry experts, that film industry was not worried about Salman’s sentencing as it would take years for the final verdict in the apex court, even 10 to 15 years, and Salman would be 60+ by then.

In Jayalalithaa’s disproportionate assets (notoriously/famously known as the DA case), the lower court, after many twists and turns, reached on a guilty verdict, after 18 years. Special Court’s judge John Michael D’Cunha was scathing in his verdict on September 27, 2014. According to a report in India Today, D’Cunha was known as a no-nonsense judge. The report said about him – “Special Judge John Michael D’Cunha, who convicted Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa in the disproportionate assets case on Saturday, has a reputation of being a no-nonsense judge who gave an indication of his stern approach while dealing with the politically volatile case.”

But on 21st day of it, Jayalalithaa, who had left the chief minister’s chair for her trusted aide O. Paneerselvam, as the verdict needed her (her four year prison term disqualified her from holding any office and contesting polls), got bail from the Supreme Court, if not the High Court which denied her so.

And within 8 months, a judge from that Karnataka High Court totally overturns the decision of the lower court. Today, the Karnataka High Court acquitted her of all charges in the case and rejected the decision of the lower court.

Glimpses of a known irony!

13 years to the same day and then within 2 days – beginning of the trial court in the lower court to sentencing – interim bail on the same day – suspension of sentence and bail by the High Court on the second day

18 years to 21 days to 8 months – beginning of the trial in the lower court to sentencing – bail from the Supreme Court – acquittal from the High Court

It’s not about Justice John Michael D’Cunha Vs Justice C. R. Kumaraswamy.

It’s not about Justice D. W. Deshpande Vs Justice Abhay Thipsay.

It’s about ‘trust’ and its ‘value’. It’s about treatment of the law and its approach towards the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’.

In both cases, higher courts found many ‘loopholes’ in the judgments of lower courts. From May 8 to May 11, one judgment (in Salman’s case) was suspended (with serious questions on judgment) and other was overturned (in Jayalalithaa’s DA case) – but not without questions among the general public.

Two important cases for Indian democracy and the lower courts understood (what this article thinks) their importance when they delivered the verdicts – only to be questioned and rejected by the higher courts.

Yes, the higher courts have all the rights to differ from the verdicts of the lower courts and we have a judicial process right to the level of the Supreme Court to address grievances and differences and it comes as a lease of life in many cases.

But, in these two cases, we are asking so many questions.

And that is the problem area. Their release should not raise so many questions but there are questions.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

JAYALALITHAA CONVICTED IN DA CASE: AS EXPECTED, TEARS ARE OUTPOURING! (SPILLING OVER)!

The flow becomes copious and tries to stuff in as many points of the loyalty bonus as possible when the camera pans towards them!

Jayalalithaa, the ‘immensely’ popular Tamil Nadu chief minister, who rode back to the corridors of power in 2011, and repeated her electoral success in Lok Sabha elections this year, almost wiping out the main political opposition party in the state, the DMK, has been convicted in a DA case (or the disproportionate assets case –a term brought in vogue by the deeds of the Indian politicians facing corruption charges).

She was convicted today by a judge of a Special Court hearing her case in Bangalore, out of Tamil Nadu, on a plea, after she took over the reins of the state. She was convicted today in yet another corruption case, by a trial court, after 18 long years. Yes, like in the past, she can expect to walk out free from the higher courts, but that comes later.

And unlike in the past, she cannot remain the chief minister now, given a recent landmark Supreme Court order, that imposes the restrictions immediately after the ‘being guilty’ verdict is announced.

So, after 18 years – 18 long years, she is facing the jail term again, and see, who is celebrating in Tamil Nadu, another political family facing charges and allegations of huge corruption and misappropriations – the Karunanidhi family, as the charges and the ongoing probes say – many prominent DMK faces were in jail like Kanimozhi, Karunanidhi’s daughter or A Raja, former Telecom Minister. In fact, most of the central figures and the first political families in majority of the Indian states are facing corruption allegations/charges.

While writing this, the suspense over her sentencing continues. According to the legal experts, the minimum term that she faces in prison is one year, while the gravity of the charges and the subsequent judicial interpretation by the presiding judge can stretch it to the maximum under the terms of her conviction – seven years.

As of now, the unconfirmed reports say of a four year term and that she would go to jail tonight.

And as expected, as has been the trend in the politics of the South Indian states in such circumstances, the painted up faces and the made up emotions have taken up their positions. As expected, tears are outpouring and the administrative machinery is geared up to tackle the incidents of violence against the verdict of a democratic institution.

Amma’s (Jayalalithaa’s) supporters are crying out their hearts and it becomes louder and more vocal when facing cameras – Glycerine tears, like many claimed suicides after the sudden death of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister in a helicopter crash on September 2, 2009?

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/