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June 16, 1999
Discharge is a political shot in the arm for Jaya
N Sathiya Moorthy in Madras
Special Courts Judge V Radhakrishnan today discharged former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalitha in the coal import case.
"Dharma has triumphed," a beaming Jayalalitha exclaimed, paraphrasing legendary Tamil poet Subramania Bharati for the benefit of waiting newsmen as she stepped out of the crowded court building. She also said that she would come out of all the cases against her as unscathed as in this one.
While the prosecution has already declared its intention to appeal the Special Court's order, it could not have come at a better time for Jayalalitha and the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam politically.
For quite some time Jayalalitha has been on the hunt for credible political allies.
Yesterday, Tamil Maanila Congress chief G K Moopanar reportedly expressed his intent not to align with the AIADMK, in whatever form, when he met Congress president Sonia Gandhi, and Left leaders Harkishen Singh Surjeet and A B Bardhan in Delhi.
The TMC's main argument was the alleged widespread corruption during the Jayalalitha regime.
With the Congress high command reportedly keeping an open mind still on an alliance in Tamil Nadu, today's court order would help the substantial pro-AIADMK elements within the party to argue their case for a tie-up a little more forcefully.
For parties like the Communist Party of India-Marxist and the Communist Party of India, whose arguments that ''communalism is more serious than corruption,'' the court order will provide a handle.
For the TMC, however, the court order may not alter its chosen course. In fact, the court order preceded Moopanar's press meet today, when he outlined his party's electoral strategy without going into specifics.
"We stick to our agenda of restoring Kamaraj rule in the state by 2001, and neither Dravidian parties can be our ally," he said, adding, "Only the Congress could be our natural ally, if at all."
In effect, he is waiting to hear from the Congress and the Left, before announcing his decision to go it alone in the polls if the other two decided to join hands with the AIADMK.
AIADMK cadres in many parts of the state celebrated the court order by bursting crackers and distributing sweets. Jayalalitha herself is expected to mount an offensive on the DMK government, blaming it for "foisting politically-motivated, unsustainable cases, which their own Special Courts have thrown out".
However, the last word on the case is yet to be said. The government is going to appeal and it may be recalled that the Madras High Court had earlier found a prima facie case in the coal imports scam.
For the present, though, a quick official review of the court handling of the cases against Jayalalitha has commenced to evaluate the quality of the legal resources the government is employing.
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