J Jayalalithaa, the powerful chief minister of Tamil Nadu, has been convicted along with three other associates V K Sasikala, V N Sudhakaran and J Illavarasi in a, 18-year old disproportinate assets case, which found the actress-turned-politician guilty in amassing wealth to the tune of over Rs 66 crore between 1991-96.
She has been sent to prison for four years, though she has the option of approaching a higher court to challenge the decision.
Jayalalithaa, referred by many as ‘amma’, was the chief minister of her home state Tamil Nadu at that time. Indeed, it was her first stint as the CM.
The case was registered around 17 years ago and investigations were carried out when bitter rival DMK was in power in the state.
When AIADMK returned to power around 2001, Jayalalithaa once again became the state chief minister but had to step down temporarily after she was convicted of a separate graft case related to land asset. She had resumed her term as the state chief after she won the case.
Later the country’s apex court had transferred her separate pending case related to disproportionate assets to neighbouring state Karnataka after rival party said she was interfering with the investigation.
Jayalalithaa had lost the next state elections in 2006 but returned back to power in the subsequent elections in 2011. The conviction means she would have to step down as the state chief minister.
Till recently, she was considered to be one of the prospective king makers and indeed a contender for the post of the Prime Minister. However, a decisive victory for BJP in the national elections changed many equations.