ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Frequent Phoenix Factor

Tamil Nadu

In Tamil Nadu's personality-oriented politics, many aspirants for power have thronged to Jayalalitha's side because of her perceived ability, demonstrated time and again, to rise phoenix-like from disgrace and defeat. Will the feat be repeated? Jayalalitha's disqualification from contesting the election has added a major element of uncertainty this time.

Such is the quality of our political life that no eventuality can be ruled out Anything can happen, any time. And the greater the vigour and volume with which a possibility is proclaimed, the greater appears its certainty. So it was that Jayalalitha appeared all set to contest the assembly polls and few could say with complete conviction that she would be disqualified. No doubt the issue was in the evernebulous area of legal interpretation of procedures. But the Election Commission’s direction was clear enough as were Jayalalitha’s credentials. Perhaps for all her bravado the lady herself was a trifle shaky. At the last moment, she redoubled her effort, so to say, by filing nomintions in two more constituencies, in addition to the original two. No one knows for sure what prompted this move.

It cannot be that she was unaware of the Election Commission’s directive that no candidate can seek nomination in more than two constituencies. Certainly not when her entourage includes, apart from eminent lawyers, a retired Chief Election Officer of Tamil Nadu. Was this merely a flourish, to impress the electorate and distract the officials? If so it misfired badly and merely ended up looking silly. Perhaps the reasoning was that by adding this new misdemeanour, she could deflect attention from the more serious handicap of a court sentence of more than two years. If debarred only on the count of excess nominations, her claim to chief ministership – in the event of her alliance obtaining a majority – would not be affected. In a permissive setting, a mixture of metaphors may be forgiven: Jayalalitha leaves no stone unturned to clutch at straws.

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