Convicted AIADMK interim general secretary Sasikala Natarajan made a seven-hour long trip from Chennai to Bengaluru before she surrendered before the special court on Wednesday, February 15. She was then taken to jail where she will be serve the remainder of her four-year term after she was convicted by the Supreme Court in the disproportionate assets case on Tuesday.
On September 27, 2014, the scene outside the very same place was completely different. That day Jayalalithaa was summoned to the court where here order of conviction was read out. She too had made a seven-hour trip that morning from Chennai to Bengaluru. Security was unusually tight and roads were cordoned off miles before the special court. The media was allowed near the court premises after thorough scrutiny. One had to walk at least a kilometre to get a cup of tea. Most shops and establishments in the vicinity were shut as a precautionary measure.
When Amma arrived in her SUV escorted by her Z+ security, there were thousands of AIADMK supporters who greeted her. She looked very confident and greeted her supporters with her signature victory symbol. Not just her supporters, but all her ministers and her entire cabinet was present at the central jail premises. There was a barricade to stop people from getting close to the court hall. The ministers too were not allowed near the court hall.
When the verdict was read out and the news of her conviction spread, there was utter disbelief on the faces of her supporters and ministers. Anger and pain was writ large over their faces. They kept going up to the media to cross check. A lucky few who had managed to gain entry into the court hall under the guise of lawyers immediately conveyed the news to our colleagues.
"She has been convicted and ordered to pay a fine of Rs 100 crore. She will be in jail for years," we screamed as our colleagues shouted back over the phone, "Confirmed no? Confirmed no?" Our colleagues called back to ask, "What about the rest?" to which we replied, "Same, same, same. Ok bye!"
When they hugged the gates and cried:
Immediately after the verdict was delivered the scene in the court hall was dramatic. Jayalalithaa sat down in disbelief. Her advocates were too scared to go near her. One senior advocate however mustered courage and went up to her. All she asked, "Enna pannitre? (What have you done?).
Jayalalithaa was asked to go to jail and as she entered cell number 23, her entire cabinet wept like kids.
O Panneerselvam was leading the weep brigade. They refused to leave the premises. At around 6 pm, they were allowed to go close to the jail building. Most of them sat outside. Many held the prison gate and wept. There were others who held on the wall and cried. They refused to leave the premises and most of them were present there until Amma came out on bail, which was two months later.
A few days later, Amma chose OPS to take over as the CM. All the cabinet ministers made a brief visit to Chennai where there were sworn in before returning to the jail premises. The Tamil Nadu government operated for the next two months from outside the central jail premises.
Now over to Sasikala:
Sasikala did everything to look, talk, dress and behave like Jayalalithaa. However, fortune did not favour the brave and the Supreme Court ordered her to go to jail. She paid a visit to Jayalalithaa's memorial before leaving for Bengaluru where she had to surrender.
As she reached Bengaluru after a seven-hour drive, there were a chose few outside the court. However, the police say this could have been the doing of an OPS group or someone angry over the Cauvery issue. None of the MLAs or ministers were present. OPS was not present for obvious reasons.
She arrived just like Amma in an SUV by 5.15 pm on Wednesday. What was noticeable was the lack of supporters for Sasikala. The prominent persons who were seen at the venue were Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker Thambidurai and Sasikala's husband, Natarajan who she hugged and cried before going into jail.
Sasikala is in jail at the moment and probably making candles. Outside the jail premises, there is no one, barring a few of her supporters and family members. No one is holdings the gates and walls and weeping. The cabinet is not outside either. As someone rightly put it, Chinamma is no Amma.