Jayalalithaa, Tamil Nadu’s Chief Minister, has actually been jailed for corruption, 18 years after charges were filed. What a wonderful thing, that someone so powerful could actually be accountable under law. In her case, she was convicted of amassing wealth well above her sources of income ($10 million worth, including acres of land and 12,000 sarees). She’s actually in jail now (prison hospital) but likely to be released on bail when she appeals. She is, however, within most possibilities out of Indian politics presently and possibly for 10 years (4 in jail, six where she can’t run after). Jaya weva.
Jayalithaa is no friend of Sri Lanka, calling for annexation of one of our islands, separation of the the country and generally making her state, Tamil Nadu, incredibly hostile and dangerous for Sri Lankans. She was, however, also pretty hostile to the LTTE. Perhaps politically, ie once that terrorist group was eliminated and there was not a physical threat to her or an actual possibility of action on her rhetoric, she started ramping up her attacks on Sri Lanka. After the war had ended and a separate state was no longer a possibility, she started calling for one, I suppose like Arab countries exploit the Palestine issue without actually doing anything about it. It was rather cynical and really poisoned relations between us and our nearest neighbor on a personal level – average Sri Lankans in her state were harassed and even assaulted.
None of which has anything to do with her conviction. That’s just how I know her.
What she was convicted of with corruption, the sort that honestly seems pretty obvious and blatant on the sub-continent – using political office to acquire land and wealth – but which almost never gets prosecuted. Her trial was delayed and stymied for 18 years, finally having to be moved out of her state to Bangalore.
And now, shockingly, she has been convicted, seemingly at the height of her power in Tamil Nadu. Something like one-third of ministers in the Indian government face criminal charges, but it’s amazing to see one being actually convicted.