N Sathiya Moorthy in Madras
For the first time after returning to power in May, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalitha has not participated in the budget session of the assembly for three days in a row.
Coinciding with the ongoing Supreme Court hearing in a bunch of public interest litigations challenging her assumption of office despite her conviction and consequent
disqualification from contesting elections, her absence from the assembly since Tuesday has been a cause for all kinds of rumours.
Tuesday night the city was agog with rumours of Jayalalitha's decision to resign. The whispers only grew louder on Wednesday.
However, the speculative interest has since confined itself to the various possibilities of a Supreme Court verdict against the chief minister.
Jayalalitha's All India Anna DMK party has been shocked by the SC's refusal to vacate the stay on the Madras high court's hearing in the Tansi case appeals filed by the chief minister.
An acquittal in the high court, or a re-trial order, alone would have qualified Jayalalitha to contest a by-election to the state assembly and get elected before the November 13 deadline.
The SC bench's direction the next day to Attorney-General Soli Sorabjee to 'ponder' over the future arrangements for Tamil Nadu in case the CM was asked to step down, created a flutter in the AIADMK camp.
"The Supreme Court is addressing larger issues of political corruption, and that's it," said a senior counsel in Madras who has been following all Jayalalitha-related cases closely.
Sorabjee is involved in the SC case not as a representative of the Centre, but only as an amicus curae appointed by the bench. It's Solicitor-General Harish Salve who is representing the Union government.
The Supreme Court seems to be seized of the possibility of Jayalalitha's successor recommending the dissolution of the assembly.
The court is also likely to lay down guidelines for appointment of non-legislators as ministers.
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