The Karnataka high court acquitted on Monday former Tamil Nadu chief minister and AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa in a corruption case, clearing the decks for her return to the state’s top job, the Hindustan Times reported.
Jayalalithaa had appealed against her conviction in the Rs 66.64-crore disproportionate assets case by a Bengaluru trial court, which had sentenced her to 4 years in jail and slapped a fine of Rs 100 crore.
The AIADMK chief, 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 in September last year.
Her close aide Sasikala and Sasikala’s relatives Sudhakaran and Elavarasi were fined Rs 10 crore each. The lower court had convicted them after a trial lasting 18 long years.
Along with Jayalalithaa, all three others were also acquitted by the high court.
There is consensus across party lines in the state that after her acquittal, Jayalalithaa will now be back with a bang.
“It will be a big blow to all opposition parties,” said C Lakshmanan, a professor at the Madras Institute of Development Studies.
“It will be a nightmare for all of them. The AIADMK might have a cakewalk in the 2016 elections. The BJP may not be able to even imagine a hold in Tamil Nadu in their lifetime unless they completely surrender to Amma,” he said.
The AIADMK will now want their Amma back in the chief minister’s seat as soon as possible.
Rabi Bernard, an AIADMK Rajya Sabha MP and a party spokesperson, said Jayalalithaa will become the chief minister.
“There are only 9 to 10 months to go for elections. The state will go into election mode. Madam will take charge of all election and campaign activities,” said Bernard.
The BJP, despite having little presence in the state was confident that it will emerge as an alternative, was watching closely said the judgement will be a game changer.
“It would boost the morale of the AIADMK cadres and the public,” said H Raja, a BJP national secretary.
“She enjoyed public support when she was chief minister. That is why this judgement will be a watershed judgement in Tamil Nadu politics.