By Juby John
Edited by, Namrata Caleb, Senior Editor, The Indian Economist
“I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet” -Mahatma Gandhi
‘Jayalalithaa Jayaram’ or ‘Amma’, the reigning demigoddess of Tamil Nadu’s political landscape and belonging from the glamorous Tamil filmdom, is now prisoner number 7402 in Bangalore jail. It took almost 18 years for a trial court to convict ‘Jayalalithaa Jayaram’, a lady staggering with around 45 corruption cases (12 major corruption cases against her alone and 33 cases against her associates including her confidante Sasikala, former All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and senior Tamil Nadu bureaucrats).
Here is a ready reckoner to the major cases Jayalalithaa has fought and is fighting:
Colour TV case: Jayalalithaa is alleged to have received kickbacks of Rs 85 million in a 1995 deal for purchase of 45,302 colour TV sets for village community across Tamil Nadu.
Tansi land case: Jayalalithaa was accused of using her official position to acquire government land in 1992 for Jaya publications of which she was a partner.
Gift case: This is the only major case against Jayalalithaa that the apex Central Bureau of Investigation is probing. She received a donation of Rs 30 million from abroad and showed the same in her income tax returns during 1992-93. Since it was a gift in foreign exchange, no tax was levied. Later on, CBI chief Joginder was appointed to identify the source of the donation.
Pleasant stay hotel case: Jayalalithaa and her erstwhile ministerial colleagues are accused of having allowed a seven-storeyed building luxury hotel to come in the hill station of Kodaikanal in brazen violation of building laws applicable to such areas, which permit only 2 floors.
Coal import case: Jayalalithaa is alleged to have caused a loss of Rs 65 million to the state exchequer in a 1993 deal for import of 2 million tonnes of coal for the state electricity board. The prosecution case is that during 1992-93, Jayalalithaa and nine others had entered into a criminal conspiracy to import substandard coal for Tamil Nadu Electricity Board.
Grapes case: Income tax department is scrutinising Jayalalithaa’s tax returns on the sale of grapes.
Granite quarry case: Jayalalithaa is alleged to have received Rs 390 million by granting quarry licences to private firms.
TIDCO disinvestment case: She is accused of abusing her official position as Chief Minister to grant privileges to 2 local industrialists.
Failure to file returns: She didn’t file income tax returns for 1993-94 thereby hiding an income of Rs 10 million.
Donation case: She allegedly received US $ 300,000 from Bankers’ Trust company in the United States under voluntary deposit act, 1991, not applicable to public servants.
SAF games advertising case: Jayalalithaa waived Rs 20 million in rights’ fees due to the government from Meena Advertising Agency, agents for the 1995 South Asian Federation Games.
Disproportionate assets case: A complaint by Subramanian Swamy that finally enmeshed this sitting chief minister who was found guilty of amassing unaccounted wealth of more than $ 10 million.
Spinster ‘Amma’ has been sentenced to jail for four years and has to pay 1 billion rupees fine. Despite the inordinate delay, thanks to the slow pace of our legal system, there is no doubt that this is a “landmark event”. It is one of the few examples of a powerful politician being held accountable for graft in our endemically corrupt political system. Surely, cleaning Indian politics of corrupt politicians will take a lot more than a couple of laws and court judgements.
Keeping all this at bay, lionization of this lady so much so that she bagged almost all the seats in the just concluded elections is in fact a mockery of the people of Tamil Nadu. Consistent hike in the suicide attempts and open airing of emotions by many in Tamil Nadu, especially those in 25-30 age groups, who are not even aware of the mood of frustration that prevailed when the details of the deeds perpetrated surfaced years ago, is really astounding. All I can say is ‘no one can help you, if you could see Jayalalithaa not?’