May 19, 2001


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The Rediff Interview/AIADMK MP and Jayalalitha confidant K Malaisamy
'There is no comparison between Jaya and Laloo'

In the last five years, as Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalitha has fought a barrage of corruption charges, there has been one man who has loyally assisted the All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam general secretary untangle her legal knots. His name is K Malaisamy.

A senior IAS officer, who served as home secretary and chief election commissioner of Tamil Nadu before joining the AIADMK in 1999, Malaisamy has been a trusted adviser to the chief minister. Naturally, he was rewarded with the Lok Sabha ticket from Ramanathapuram constituency, which he won easily in 1999.

A legal expert and the AIADMK's chief orator in Parliament, it is now for Malaisamy to ensure that Jayalalitha fights her disqualification by the Election Commission and wins a by-election within six months.

In an interview with George Iype Malaisamy explains how Jayalalitha plans to battle the corruption cases against her. Excerpts:

Opposition leaders and many legal experts argue that Governor Fathima Beevi's decision to appoint Jayalalitha chief minister was illegal and unethical.

It is a stupid argument. The opposition leaders in the DMK are angry and upset because their party is nearly finished in Tamil Nadu. Naturally, they did not want Jayalalitha to become the chief minister. But they all should understand that Jayalalitha became the chief minister because legally she is on a sound footing. She has also got an overwhelming popular verdict.

Governor Fathima Beevi is not an ordinary person. She is a former Supreme Court judge. So nobody should believe that a former Supreme Court judge will simply invite a person to become the chief minister of a state.

But don't you think it is legally incorrect for a political leader barred from contesting elections to become the chief minister?

Article 164 of the Constitution clearly states that any person can be selected to be the leader of a legislature party and become the chief minister without being elected. The only condition is that he or she should be elected within six months.

The Constitution does not say whether a disqualified person can become chief minister. The Constitution never says that only a qualified person should be elected to head a legislative party. So there have been no legal problems in Jayalalitha becoming the chief minister. The governor did the right thing.

Did Jayalalitha consult legal and constitutional experts before staking her claim to become the chief minister?

Yes, she consulted a number of experts. Particularly, she sought the opinion of former chief election commissioner T N Seshan. Seshan advised us that there was no legal and constitutional hurdle to Jayalalitha becoming the chief minister.

Do you think the Election Commission was wrong in disqualifying Jayalalitha from contesting the election?

I was the chief election commissioner of Tamil Nadu for four years. I can say with authority that the decision of the Election Commission was not only wrong, but discriminatory. It is discriminatory because while the commission rejected Jayalalitha's nomination papers, it accepted the candidature of R Balakrishna Pillai in Kerala.

It is ironic that the commission has two sets of standards and rules. It is all confusing and contradictory.

What will happen now? Do you think Jayalalitha will be able to contest a by-election within six months?

Jayalalitha has won in the people's court. Now she is getting ready to win in the legal court. The law is on our side and we are sure that she will contest the polls and win within six months. She will continue to be the chief minister of Tamil Nadu without any interruptions.

But how? Won't the Election Commission again debar her from contesting the by-election?

We have many, many legal means to fight the Election Commission. First of all, we hope to file an appeal before the high court against Jayalalitha's conviction and sentence in the TANSI land deal case. She was disqualified to fight the elections because her conviction has been for more than two years. We will appeal in the high court to suspend the sentence. We can also appeal to ensure that her conviction and sentence are modified to ensure that they are less than two years, which will allow Jayalalitha to contest the polls.

If the high court does not suspend or modify the sentence and conviction, what will happen?

We will move the Supreme Court. We are sure the apex court will give us justice.

Morally, don't you think it was incorrect on Jayalalitha's part to become the chief minister?

Look, the political mandate that Jayalalitha has received from the people of Tamil Nadu proves beyond any doubt that all the cases slapped on her were part of a political vendetta by the Karunanidhi government.

If you look closely at some of the cases like the TANSI land deal, you will know that they are ridiculous charges. Therefore, linking her cases with the chief ministership is not the right approach. Let the law take its own course. I am sure Jayalalitha will come out clean because they are false corruption charges.

The argument is, if Jayalalitha can become the chief minister, why can't Laloo Prasad Yadav too become the chief minister of Bihar.

Opposition leaders compare Laloo Yadav with Jayalalitha for convenience. But I tell you, there are no comparisons between the cases of Jayalalitha and Laloo Yadav. The DMK government has falsely implicated Jayalalitha in many cases.

Now that Jayalalitha is the chief minister, do you expect your government to retaliate against the DMK leaders?

We have already retaliated by defeating the corrupt government of Karunanidhi. We will now ensure that all corruption charges against Karunanidhi and his ministers are investigated and proved.

Design: Dominic Xavier

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