Whether former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa can leave jail could be decided today, when the Karnataka High Court will hear her request for bail. Ms Jayalalithaa has been in a Bangalore prison since Saturday, after being found guilty of corruption.
Actors, directors and others from the film industry in Tamil Nadu are on a hunger strike in Chennai to protest against Ms Jayalalithaa’s arrest; popular actor Srikanth said they were demonstrating “support and solidarity” for Ms Jayalalithaa, a former actress.
Ms Jayalalithaa has appealed to the Karnataka High Court against her conviction; she has also asked for bail. She will be represented by noted lawyer Ram Jethmalani.
The politician, who heads the AIADMK, has said that she is unwell. She is a diabetic.
Her party, which swept Tamil Nadu in May’s general election, is the third largest in Parliament.
The 66-year-old was in the middle of her third term as Tamil Nadu Chief Minister when she was convicted of corruption in a case that is 18 years old. She says the charges against her are politically motivated.
She was found guilty of misusing her office during her first stint from 1991 to 1996 to accumulate vast wealth that could not be accounted for by her declared sources of income.
Her conviction meant automatic disqualification as a legislator and she had to step down as chief minister. In Chennai, her loyal aide O Panneerselvam, 63, took over as chief minister of Tamil Nadu on Monday, breaking down as he took oath.
Ms Jayalalithaa’s arrest has triggered large protests. Workers of her party, the AIADMK, have wept as they have protested outside the homes and offices of the rival DMK, which pursued the case against her that led to her imprisonment.
Ms Jayalalithaa is Prisoner No 7402 in Bangalore’s Central Prison – her trial was transferred there in 2001 to ensure that her party’s influence in her home state would not influence the case.
Tamil Nadu votes for its next government in 2016. Unless Ms Jayalalithaa’s conviction is overturned by a higher court, she will not be able to contest the state election.