• Saturday, January 17, 2015 - 05:30
Sameera Ahmed | The News Minute | August 29, 2014 | 5.52 pm IST It should have been the case of the decade. The verdict of a case filed against Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa could change the destiny of politics in the state for several years to come.  On Wednesday a Karnataka High Court judge pronounced the date for verdict as September 20th in the disproportionate assets case against Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa. If convicted, depending on the sentence, she could be disqualified from the state legislature by law.  Despite the magnitude of the case, there has hardly been any reportage in the state on this story. This should have been the headline of every newspaper in the state but has not been given front-page coverage, but this story has been condensed to the inner pages in most prominent English and Tamil dailies in Chennai. After Thursday’s decision, look at how the city’s newspapers covered the story Tamil Nadu has four prominent English dailies: The Hindu, Times of India, New Indian Express and Deccan Chronicle. Although both The Hindu and The Times of India covered the story, it is unclear why the news stories were relegated to the inner pages, except for a newspaper owned by the Marans, of course, which carried the story prominently. The Hindu covered this story in a 72-word article on Page 7 of its Chennai edition. Placed under the Southern Region category, it hardly catches the reader’s attention. Its Bangalore edition, where the case was heard, put out a web version of the story. According to sources, the importance of the verdict was misjudged and hence, the story was carried as it was. Times of India published a snippet on Page 1 announcing the approaching verdict. The entire story was detailed on Page 7 of the paper. New Indian Express and Deccan Chronicle made no mention of the case verdict anywhere in their papers.  Now, moving on to the premier Tamil dailies in the state: Dinathanthi had a report on the story on Page 10 of its paper. It mentioned DMK Chief Karunanidhi’s responses regarding the disproportionate assets case in an interview on Thursday. The Hindu Tamil published the news on Page 11. Dinamani, another Tamil publication owned by the New Indian Express put out the story on Page 10. Dinamalar, a prominent Tamil daily, brought out a 3-column report on Page 10 with details of the case involved. Dinakaran was the only newspaper which carried a front page headline of the disproportionate assets case on the state’s Chief Minister. This paper, interestingly, is part of the Sun Group owned by Kalanithi Maran. The case Registered in 1997 against Jayalalithaa after her term as chief minister from 1991 to 1996 , the charges were regarding a disproportionate jump in her wealth from Rs. 2.01 crore in 1991 to Rs. 66.65 crore in 1996, not comparable to the declared sources of income.  The case was moved to Bangalore in 2003 on a plea by the DMK on the basis that a trail in Chennai would be “unfair” as Jayalalithaa had become Chief Minister again in 2001.  There is no uncertainty regarding the significance surrounding this verdict. If found guilty with a term of more than two years, TN CM Jayalalithaa would lose her position under the Representation of People Act which disqualifies any MP, MLA or MLC convicted for a crime with more than a two year sentence as an elected representative from the date of the conviction. (The Telegraph)  In case the punishment is for a lesser term, she could appeal even if the judge suspends her. Even though she will not be officially disqualified, the verdict itself will deem it difficult for the CM to continue in her position. In case the punishment is for a lesser term, she could appeal even if the judge suspends her. Even though she will not be officially disqualified, the verdict itself will deem it difficult for the CM to continue in her position.