The party’s 43 founding day could not have been happier for several lakh workers who had been praying for the release of Ms. Jayalalithaa from the Bangalore Central Prison, where she was lodged after her conviction in the disproportionate assets case.
The minute the workers learnt of the news, they started dancing in rains, which marked the arrival of northeast monsoon. Crackers were burst at the party headquarters as well as at Poes Garden, where her residence is located. Sweets were distributed to everyone around.
“Getting bail is the first victory. Once Amma comes to Chennai, she will face all cases against her. She will be the Chief Minister again,” said a youth wing leader at the party headquarters, where some of the Ministers, including T. Senthil Balaji (Transport) and Gokula Indira (Handloom), came to join the celebrations.
Some shouted slogans praising Ms. Jayalalithaa and the party founder, MGR, and tore apart their black shirts. “We wore the black attire as Amma was in jail. This is victory to her pure heart. No one can cage her,” shouted a few of them.
At Poes Garden, Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam and a few ministers arrived after the news broke. A local leader, whose identity is not known, threw up a bunch of currency notes to express his delight.
The celebrations that began a little after noon went on till evening, and no one was willing to talk about the possibility of Ms. Jayalalithaa returning to the prison if the Karnataka High Court also found her guilty of the charges.
The day, though, began on a sombre note. The party’s presidium chairman, E. Madhusudhanan, and Mr. Panneerselvam, visibly tired and sporting a grey beard, garlanded the MGR statue at the party headquarters.
Despair was writ large on their faces. No one was sure whether their leader would get bail.
The leaders were asked not to show emotions ahead of the hearing, and the function was businesslike. Health Minister C. Vijaya Baskar received the first copy of a special souvenir to mark the founding day.
A woman MLA at the function said she had visited the Parapanna Agrahara Prison on Thursday, but could not meet Ms. Jayalalithaa. “They told me that the distance between the visitors’ hall and Amma’s cell was long. She treats everyone equally and so refused to meet only a few. Only Sasikala [a friend of Jayalalithaa and another accused] walked down once or twice a day to pass on information,” she said.
“Nothing matters more to us than seeing her walking out of the prison,” she said.
Celebrations in Srirangam
In Srirangam from where Ms. Jayalalithaa was elected to the Assembly in 2011, AIADMK workers hit the streets, bursting crackers and distributing cakes at different places.
The party workers were overjoyed as the grant of bail came on the party’s 43 founding day. “We feel Deepavali has arrived today,” said Tamizharasi, the party’s urban district women’s wing secretary.