news Monday, May 11, 2015 - 05:30
The crowd of journalists, police officers and AIADMK party members stood at Poes Garden in the sweltering Chennai heat, anxiously looking at their watches and waiting for word from the neighbouring state of Karnataka. As everyone posed for the cameras and shouted slogans in support of their dear “Amma” there was a sudden outburst of cheering. The verdict was out and there was no doubt as to the result - AIADMK chief and former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, J Jayalalithaa had been acquitted by a special court in Bengaluru. What followed was perhaps euphoric celebration that one had to see to believe. The entire lane, packed with supporters, soon burst into dance. Firecrackers were set off and sweets were distributed. However, the day did not begin with such happiness. The early hours of Monday in Poes Garden saw a steady stream of AIADMK members flow in from 8am till it had grown into a sea of people. Compared to the gathering in September when the conviction was announced, the crowd on this day was almost triple in size Of course, they were cautious about calling the verdict prematurely, learning from last year’s mistake when they celebrated half-an-hour before the entire judgment was read out. “After last time’s fiasco we were given strict instructions not to celebrate early this time until the judgement was confirmed,” said one of the party members who wished to remain anonymous. Ahead of the verdict, a string of loyalists, including karate expert Shihan Hussaini who had earlier crucified himself to demand Jayalalithaa’s reinstatement as chief minister, displayed vehement support for their leader as the AIADMK cadre shouted out slogans and waved party flags in the background.   “See! See! I told you,” said Vindhya an AIADMK party worker who had spoken to The News Minute before the verdict was out, following which she joined in the dancing.   Manimegalai, an ex-MLA said, “There was no case for the prosecution to convict her because it didn’t come under the Benami Act.” Cars filled with bouquets drove one after the other on the road leading to Jayalalithaa’s residence, and crackers were set off in every possible direction. As is customary with every Jayalalithaa meeting, one could spot members of the party showcasing their creativity with a bunch of eye-catching outfits.   Then came the wave. Actors and politicians arrived, sending the crowd into frenzy. Sarath Kumar, a political ally of Jayalalithaa, followed by a few politicians and ministers, including Valarmathi, made their way to the former chief minister’s residence. The crowd also saw Tamil actor Senthil and lastly a smiling O Paneerselvam greeting supporters in what could possibly be his last week as the chief minister as he is expected to tender his resignation soon. Jayalalithaa is also expected to take back her mantle at some point after seven months, including 21 days in jail.