From the editor-in-chief

India Today - - FROM THE EDITOR-IN-CHIEF - (Aroon Purie)

Kan­i­mozhi, the youngest child of DMK pa­tri­arch M. Karunanidhi, had long been con­sid­ered her fa­ther’s lit­er­ary heir, the poet daugh­ter of the le­gendary scriptwriter of Tamil cinema. In 2007, she took a step for­ward to claim­ing her fa­ther’s po­lit­i­cal legacy, when he nom­i­nated her to the Ra­jya Sabha. With Dayanidhi Maran out of favour at that time, Kan­i­mozhi be­came the ur­bane and so­phis­ti­cated face of the DMK in the national cap­i­tal. She also ex­er­cised con­sid­er­able in­flu­ence as the Delhi-based am­bas­sador of a key Congress ally in the UPA coali­tion. Four years later, in a re­mark­able twist of fate, she finds her­self in­car­cer­ated in Delhi’s Ti­har Jail, ac­cused of com­plic­ity in the 2G scam, de­nied bail four times in the last six months, and set to go on trial on Novem­ber 11.

There are a num­ber of in­ter­est­ing di­men­sions to the trial of Kan­i­mozhi. There is the le­gal as­pect: how long can the ju­di­ciary con­tinue deny­ing bail, de­fy­ing all prece­dence, to an un­der­trial even af­ter charges have been framed? And will any high pro­file politi­cians or cor­po­rate ex­ec­u­tives be even­tu­ally found guilty of wrong­do­ing in what has been hyped as the big­gest cor­rup­tion case in In­dia’s his­tory? Those ques­tions will be an­swered in court in due course. What is more fluid are the po­lit­i­cal im­pli­ca­tions of Kan­i­mozhi’s con­tin­ued in­car­cer­a­tion and trial. There is lit­tle doubt that Karunanidhi is deeply an­guished see­ing his daugh­ter in prison. He re­port­edly cried when he heard that she was de­nied bail just be­fore Di­wali. He is also an­gry and ag­i­tated with the Congress for not do­ing enough to en­sure that his daugh­ter is re­leased on bail. The CBI had un­til re­cently op­posed her bail plea in court. The DMK may have been trounced in the Assem­bly elec­tions in Tamil Nadu in May but it still has 18 MPS in the Lok Sabha. The Congress needs the DMK’S sup­port to run a Govern­ment, par­tic­u­larly at a time when Ma­mata Ban­er­jee, who has 19 MPS, is itch­ing to dis­tance her­self from the Congress. For now, the DMK pa­tri­arch is not with­draw­ing but if things get worse for Kan­i­mozhi, the sur­vival of the UPA Govern­ment could be put into jeop­ardy.

Then there is the in­ter­nal pol­i­tics of the DMK. There is al­ready an in­tense bat­tle on to suc­ceed the 87-year-old Karunanidhi who is ail­ing and wheel­chair-bound. In pole po­si­tion is M.K. Stalin, Karunanidhi’s sec­ond son from his wife Day­alu Am­mal. Close be­hind is M.K. Ala­giri, Stalin’s older brother, Union min­is­ter for fer­tilis­ers and a strong­man from Madu­rai. Kan­i­mozhi is the wild­card in this pack. Chen­nai is abuzz with the­o­ries that her fa­ther will use her jail term as a tool to foist her into front­line pol­i­tics. There, how­ever, seems lit­tle sup­port in DMK cadres and in the fam­ily for this. The 2G scam and Kan­i­mozhi’s in­volve­ment in it are widely seen as the lead­ing cause of de­feat in the re­cent elec­tions. Still, as long as she has the sup­port of Karunanidhi and his sec­ond wife, Ra­jathi, Kan­i­mozhi’s broth­ers will be un­easy.

Our cover story, writ­ten by Deputy Editor Damayanti Datta with reporting from Se­nior Editor Priya Sahgal in Delhi and Se­nior Correspondent Lak­shmi Subra­ma­nian in Chen­nai, pieces to­gether the dif­fer­ent facets of Kan­i­mozhi’s trial. Be­yond the pol­i­tics and courts, we also re­port what time in prison has meant for Kan­i­mozhi and how dif­fi­cult it has been for her liv­ing away from her 11-year-old son. Says Subra­ma­nian who has re­ported on the

DMK’S first fam­ily for many years, “Kan­i­mozhi is a strong per­son who can cope with ad­ver­sity. Her only weak­ness is her son.” It may still be a long while be­fore the tra­vails of Kan­i­mozhi end.

OUR MAY 2006 COVER

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