Lesson from down south

           EVEN as political parties, which are eyeing to form the next government in Manipur, continue to spar against each other over multiple issues afflicting the scenically blessed but politically nondescript state, from national perspective, down south in Tamil Nadu the ruling AIADMK general secretary VK Sasikala’s aspiration to become the chief minister has been abruptly ended after the Supreme Court on Tuesday restored her conviction in a disproportionate assets case. For the record, restoring the judgment of the trial court convicting and sentencing her and her two relatives, the apex court set aside a Karnataka High Court order acquitting the three and late Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa. Among others, the immediate fallout of the verdict is that Sasikala will be out of the electoral field for 10 years, including four years imprisonment. The decree also virtually put an end to the intense bickering between Sasikala and incumbent chief minister O Panneerselvam, who had taken over the reins of governance after the demise of the talismanic Jayalalithaa. Significantly, Sasikala was not only a close aide of Jayalalithaa but is believed to have had strong influence on any significant decisions made by the film actor-turned-politician, who had also created a record of sort by orchestrating AIADMK’s second consecutive victory in the last assembly polls of the southern state, where the anti-incumbency factor often resulted in the downfall of those holding the reins of power.

            Taking into account that the SC judgment is a verdict against the ‘escalating menace of corruption in society’, the Tamil Nadu tale seems to be symmetrical with how things are unfolding in the run up to the Manipur state elections. In case there is any need for reminding, apart from economic blockade and allegations over slackness in the pace of development, leaders of opposition political parties, BJP in particular, have been giving the ‘highest grade of corruption’ to 15 years rule of the O Ibobi Singh government. As corruption and amassing wealth from undisclosed sources of income generation are considered the two sides of the same coin, there must be some substance in the opposition leaders’ suspicion over why Manipur continues to lag behind in the race for development. Lamentably, there have been hardly any follow-up actions or initiatives by those levelling graft allegations against the incumbent government, apart from making such issues the hottest election topic only when the five-yearly democratic exercise is round the corner, instead of producing the evidences to nail the guilty one. Considering the fact that almost all the candidates, who are seeking the people’s mandate in the upcoming state polls live in palatial buildings and determined to emerge victorious by all means, the disproportionate assets case that has condemned Sasikala, could be an eye-opener that the corrupt cannot always escape from the long arm of the law. Similar to the Jayalalithaa-Sasikala court cases, which officially started in June 1996 when the then Janata Party president and the present BJP MP Subramanian Swamy presented a corruption complaint against them in Chennai, Manipur too urgently needs persons with steely resolve, if at all the state and its people are to be freed from the malaise of corruption.

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