Releasing Rajiv killers: Jaya ploy to nix opposition alliance
by Jayasree Saranathan on 23 Feb 2014 6 Comments

Jayalalithaa has stirred up the Nation’s conscience by her move to release the Rajiv killers! Before telling why, I wish to express my surprise at how people – including those in TV debates did not see some basic facts in this issue.  Technically speaking, all that Jayalalithaa did was to have seized upon the suggestion the Supreme Court verdict had given that the State Government can exercise its remission powers under Section 432 and 433 CrPC by following due procedure in law. Her mistake was that she didn’t follow the due procedures in securing the remission, perhaps due to the fact the results of such procedures are not binding on the Government. Even now the Supreme Court in its note of stay on the release of the killers had not said that the killers must not be released, but only that there are procedural lapses in securing the remission, thereby implying that once the due procedure is in place, the remission of the killers will not be a problem or cannot stopped.


Whether this applies to three killers who applied for mercy or all killers is another issue – but going by the trend in Supreme Court verdicts, the 20+ long years of incarceration seems to weigh in favour of their release.


Can Jayalalithaa be faulted for this move as being political and aimed at greater National role? There is of course something political, but not the way that media in rest of India thinks. The apex verdict came at a time when the DMDK was making secret parlays with Congress that could result in an alliance between the DMDK, the Congress and the DMK. This is certainly the most wretched alliance that must not be allowed to take any advantage in the hustling based on the supposed vote share of these parties.


The best way to make it not happen is to make it difficult for the DMDK to hobnob with the Congress. This verdict, giving room for the State Government to release the killers, if done immediately, would blow up emotional reactions as Rahul expectedly did, followed by his party men – least thinking of the support his mother had given long ago by asking for clemency for the killers and his sister had timed a visit to one of the killers (Nalini) in prison to create a pro-Tamil image. The rest of India and the media have forgotten all that.


Now with the Rahul-led Congress crying foul over the release of the killers, the anger against the Congress is growing further in Tamil Nadu and it is impossible for the DMDK-Vijaykanth to side with the Congress! With the election schedule likely to be announced anytime now, there is no time for Vijaykanth to work out new strategies on alliances. His fate is almost sealed by this move by Jayalalithaa.


Jayalalithaa knows pretty well that this decision will be challenged in court. Things are going as per her plan, I believe. That is seen by the way she / her Government was cool in responding that she would abide by the court! She would claim that she did not act on her own when she passed the order of remission, but on the court’s suggestion, and now she would say that she would wait for what the court is going to say. Either way she had worked for “Tamil” cause far better and higher than anyone in the fray! But the real dividend lies in having isolated the DMDK.


By now she would have gotten used to thinking on two sides for anything, as it has become a habit for the opposition parties to go to court for whatever she does. Tamil Nadu ranks the highest in India in court cases against Government decisions. That works to her advantage as she is by now very much trained in thinking way ahead of all others. The current issue is one such thought-out strategy. She knows that it will be challenged in court, though the outcome of releasing the killers had been perfectly legitimised by the court verdict in a succinct way. Why go through the procedure, when there is an opportunity in shattering an alliance before it is made? She did that and the Congress reacted expectedly – resulting in a fresh snowballing of public opinion against the Congress that left less room for the DMDK to align with Congress at least for now – or until this is in people’s memory.


To call this as though this is against the interest of the nation is selective memory or hypocrisy. Suppose the DMK had been in power now, do you think the DMK would be keeping quiet? Both the DMK and the Congress would have worked hand-in-glove to release the killers. Sonia or Rahul would have made the first appeal to release them.


Now they are not in power in TN to draw this advantage, so the Congress is making noises while the DMK chief is trying to take credit that he was the first one to have batted for the release of the killers long ago.


People must remember that the day before Jayalalithaa passed this order, supposedly for political gains, the Congress has just done a real heinous crime of dividing a State for political gains. Is that not real danger to the nation’s integrity? No court, no party and no one could stop that which is going to herald a new season of fragmentation of the country. There is proverb in Tamil “Maamiyaar udaitthaal maN kudam: maattup peN udaitthaal pon kudam” (the pot broken by the mother-in-law is after all a mud pot, but if the same pot is broken by the daughter-in-law, a big hue and cry will be raised as though she had broken a golden pot). Jayalalithaa is the daughter-in-law in the proverb!


Coming to this issue, Jayalalithaa was the least politicking person initially. She was sincere when she wanted to enforce discipline and work culture in Government offices, but she was severely criticised for that. She had the guts to bring in an anti-conversion law, but no one backed it. She did something which only a Buddha could do when she banned animal sacrifices in temples. But she was highly criticised and was forced to retract. This country and its people didn’t have a conscience beating for these issues. The lesson is that one has to go in the way that others go. She learnt that in this tenure, and as someone remarked aptly, she has only herself to surpass. She used it to break the evil axis of DMK-Congress-DMDK. 


I said in the beginning that Jayalalithaa’s action had stirred up the Nation’s conscience. Yes, the collective conscience of what is good for the country was not heard when the Congress was allowing voices for pro-killers or pro-LTTE to gain momentum, was allowing Eelam Tamil issue to scuttle Indian foreign policy, was allowing Karunanidhi to play politics over all that, had Sonia pitch for clemency for the killers, had Priyanka pay a visit to Nalini in prison, and MORE THAN ALL THESE delay the mercy petitions of the killers for nearly a decade purely for political considerations. If the issue of Rajiv Gandhi’s killers has come to this level, it is because of the way mercy petitions were sat upon or disposed of only in accordance with the political calculations of the Congress party.


The collective conscience of the country did not even seem to exist when the Congress Government politically timed the execution of Kasab and Afzal Guru. In effect, emotions and politicking have been allowed to grow to the current level mainly due to the ways that the Congress party has chosen for extracting mileages from whatever it does.


The Nation and the national media did not wake up on those times. But now they have woken up when Jayalalithaa did something. The Nation or the media did not even know that all life prisoners (murderers and criminals) were released every year on Annadurai’s birthday by Karunanidhi during his last tenure. Jayalalithaa too did it in her first tenure, but did not repeat it in subsequent tenures. She only stopped Karunanidhi’s order after she resumed office in the current tenure. The Nation’s conscience was nowhere seen on those occasions.


It’s good that it is woken up now. May that remain vigilant in all issues of politicking done by all parties starting from the oldest party to the latest entrant, AAP!


The author is a freelancer; she blogs at Non-random-Thoughts

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