Just months after it looked like former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa's political career was almost over – after her conviction in the disproportionate assets case that effectively debarred her from contesting elections for 10 years – the tide has turned in favour of the AIADMK supremo, who is all set to stage a comeback.
The Karnataka High Court acquitted Jayalalithaa on Monday and overturned the judgement by a Bengaluru special court last September, which had convicted her and three others in the Rs 66.64 crore disproportionate assets case, sentencing her to four years in jail and slapping a fine of Rs 100 crore.
While Jayalalithaa's trusted aide O Panneerselvam is currently running the AIADMK government in Tamil Nadu, she is likely to return as the chief minister immediately and use the political leverage from her acquittal to win the state elections scheduled next year.
According to reports, she is likely to be sworn in as the Tamil Nadu chief minister on 17 May.
The Opposition had a field day in the state during Jayalalithaa's absence, taking potshots at Panneerselvam for his inability to match up to his predecessor, while looking to gain in the 2016 elections from Jaya's downfall.
But with Jayalalithaa poised to return, Panneerselvam is likely to go back to managing the finance portfolio, and the AIADMK will focus on winning the 2016 elections by riding on the favourable verdict to win public support.
"There are only 9 to 10 months to go for elections. The state will go into election mode. Madam will take charge of all election and campaign activities," Rabi Bernard, an AIADMK Rajya Sabha MP, told Hindustan Times.
AIADMK had grabbed 37 of 39 seats in Tamil Nadu during the Lok Sabha elections last year, routing other state parties in a massive show of strength.
Jayalalithaa's resurgence is now likely to send other parties such as the DMK and the BJP, which was looking to gain ground in her absence, into a huddle over the upcoming elections.
Jayalalithaa was disqualified from being a member of the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly after the conviction last year, and her seat from the Srirangam Assembly Constituency was declared vacant.