Jayalalithaa exposes nadir of her politics

Indians in general did not share either the feeling or the sentiment of Rahul Gandhi. Rahul, the scion of Gandhi family and son of the assassinated former Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi was told to have felt a sudden surge of sadness when he learnt about Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa's decision to set free his father's assassins.

Jayalalithaa's decision rudely jolted India, shocked the Indians and angered them beyond measure. Shock and rage poured forth in social media. Indians, irrespective of their political beliefs and allegiance, felt numbed by Jayalalithaa's cynical populism.

And more painful was the fact that almost all political parties in Tamil Nadu, barring of course the Congress, supported the move Jayalalithaa should never have taken. DMK patriarch, M Karunanidhi, hailed the decision forgetting that till yesterday the party was in alliance with the Congress.

Even the Left parties joined the cacophony of paean singers for Jayalalithaa. As the Tamils showed how despicably anti-national they are their politicians redefined the political ethics in perhaps the worst possible manner painting the contours of Tamil politics in the darkest of hues. "For Jayalalithaa and Karunanidhi, the freedom of Rajiv Gandhi's killers (was) merely a political tool, not a philosophical issue regarding the ethics of retributive justice."

Astonishingly, even the Tamil civil society justified the chief minister's move to release the terrorists saying "twenty-three years is a long time to be in prison, and, three of them had lived in the shadow of the gallows for a long time." They and their politicians "were willing to forgo the fact that these men were convicted in a case of terrorism, involving the murder of a former prime minister."

Therefore, when Congress described Jayalalithaa's decision as "irresponsible, perverse and populist" Indians, other than the Tamils, expressed solidarity with the party. Evidently, Amma (Jayalalithaa) was ill advised. She was never told that there still remained some fundamental differences between commutation of a sentence and total remission.

Or, perhaps, Amma lacks the wit to realise and understand the simple truth. Could be even that in a fit of megalomania she tried to score a brownie point.

The haste with which she announced in a matter of fact manner her decision to release all seven convicts in the Rajiv assassination case showed that there were much more than just playing politics with terror. She showed utter insouciance for the national aspirations to weed out terrorism and criminal insolence for each and every one in the country who fell fighting terrorism.

How ethical was her decision is the question that India asks her today. She has not answered the nation as yet and will never for sure. Jayalalithaa's decision will go down in footnotes of history as the worst example of political populism in a country where politics has never been ethical and has always survived on propitiating voters.

Jayalalithaa's move to set free Rajiv's assassins was a disgraceful effort to propitiating voters with Parliamentary elections just about three months away from now. Many among the Tamils have always been sympathetic towards the LTTE and cause of Elam the terrorist outfit has been fighting for. They were immeasurably enraged by the manner in which LTTE was crushed and at the reports of atrocities army in Sri Lanka committed during the civil war.

Jayalalithaa obviously sought to harness this Tamil sentiment by stooping down to the level where none in the past dared. She sought to make India lose in its fight against terrorism; she attempted to play the ethnic card in perhaps the most despicable manner; she transgressed her limits and stepped over the red line pandering to the local sentiments.

Providentially, she has been restrained by the Supreme Court of India. 

To our dismay and disbelief Jayalalithaa showed the nadir to which our politicians in India can go down just to trump rivals. DMK has been a traditional sympathiser of the Elam and LTTE and Jayalalithaa and her party, AIADMK, sought to steal the wind out of DMK's sail. She was in need to harness the support of the LTTE sympathisers. And what could have helped her to do that than announcing release of Rajiv's killers.

She may have played with the sentiments of millions of Indians. But, in her Machiavellian objectives Jayalalithaa is a winner. She has succeeded in making a big issue ahead of the elections and has killed two birds with a single arrow. As D. P. Satish says, she will now blame the Congress-led Central government for opposing the release in the Supreme Court and try to portray herself as somebody who did everything she could for the Rajiv Gandhi killers release on humanitarian grounds. It is expected to polarize votes in her favour and all opposition parties including the DMK and the BJP will be left with no issue to attack her during the election campaign.

Her move may have put her dream to become prime minister of India into jeopardy. But, considering the gains she lapped up this now seems a small sacrifice. In Tamil Nadu she has emerged stronger than ever undercutting all her rivals. She would not mind playing the strongest regional satrap for she knows if she can win 40 seats in the Parliament she would hold the balance of power in the next government.
Yet she would remain for long the sole cause of shame for India. Her politics was simply abhorrent and punctured India's moral stand against terrorism once and for all. She, with her nasty politics, would always remain a bad advertisement for the nation. 

The author is the Opinion Editor  of Times of Oman.


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Reader Comments

This is a highly skewed article. There may be pros and cons to the decision taken by the TN government, but the author of this article has made an utter ridicule of himself by venting his frustration like a kid who lost his candy. And his statements are self-contradicting. First he says Indians did not share Rahuls feelings, then he says everyone was outraged by Jayas actions (which is in effect sympathizing with Rahul). It makes me laugh.

A news article should be unbiased and simply seek to provide information. Forming opinions should be up to the readers. This does the opposite. Certainly, the CMs actions may be debatable, since some wholeheartedly welcomed it while others wholeheartedly opposed it. But the way in which this article is written is a shame for journalism. Opinion editors are useful only in magazines & blogs where biased information is acceptable. Not in news articles.