The AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa’s writ is to extend in Fort St George for the second five-year term in a row. In a sensational and historic "Jaya Ho" triumph, she has repeated what party founder and her mentor, MG Ramachandran did in 1984. All this while convalescing in a hospital at Brooklyn, USA, following a kidney transplant, as she has returned to power for her fourth term since 1991.
With this win, she has not only bucked Tamil Nadu’s trend of voting out a party after every five years, but also consolidated her position as the strongest leader in the south. The AIADMK has 37 members in the Lok Sabha with the potential of being a key player in any power game.
However, as she declared in a brief victory speech, beamed live by her Jaya television, she does not have vaulting national ambitions, nursed so often by regional satraps.
|AIADMK cadres getting their hands tattooed with the image of Jayalalithaa.|
"The results aren’t out yet but the people of Tamil Nadu have reposed their faith on the AIADMK by helping us win the election. I want to thank the people of Tamil Nadu. I have no other interests in life, except working for the people of Tamil Nadu. There are no words that can describe what I am feeling at this moment about what they have done... I will always remember what they have done with gratitude and continue to work for them. I will fulfill all the promises mentioned in the election manifesto. I am forever indebted to the people of Tamil Nadu," she affirmed speaking from her Poes Garden residence, before thanking the party cadre for their efforts that helped the AIADMK clinch victory.
The DMK is reduced to sitting on the opposition benches, though, it will occupy more than double the number of seats in the new Legislative Assembly when compared with what it had in the House between 2011 and 2016.
However, its leader, M Karunanidhi is most likely to stay away from the proceedings of the new Assembly after taking oath as he did in the last five years when he visited the legislature only to mark attendance to avoid possible disqualification.
Jaya’s triumph is the culmination of a nuanced and well-planned strategy going by her evolution and experience in governance during her earlier tenures as well as the intervening years out of office.
The most vital factors contributing to the historic win are:
1. Remaining the undisputed and unchallenged leader within the AIADMK and government.
2. Countering prospects of anti–incumbency by harping on her government implementing all 54 promises made in the 2011 poll manifesto during her current tenure coupled with an emotive riposte, Sonnadai seiythean, Sollathahiyum ( I did what I promised. I also did what I had not promised) that enthralled the crowds at all her rallies, including the last at Tirunelveli, after the DMK released its manifesto with the catch line: Solvathia seivum, seivathia solvum (We do what we say, we say what we do).
3. Touching more lives with 55 crore beneficiaries of different Amma branded and other welfare and subsidy schemes, while Tamil Nadu’s population is 7.28 crore.
4. Capitalising on the state’s capacity to absorb centrally-sponsored schemes to become the largest beneficiary of the MGNREG scheme to take up works worth Rs 20, 742 crore, which is the highest in the country.
5. Banking on an aggressive campaign to back what she has done in handing out freebies, and pushing ahead with development initiatives, some women-centric, in the past five years.
6. Commanding respect and admiration for being a tough woman not just among the urban middle class women but also among rural voters who approve of party activists, including ministers, bowing in reverence to her.
7. Cultivating and nurturing her voter base, particularly among women, by casting her social welfare net wide.
8. Falling crime against women from 22 for every 1,00,000 persons in 2013, to 18 in 2015, which is just a third of the national figure to make Tamil Nadu relatively safer for women.
9. Going it alone in almost all 234 constituencies after having given away just seven to allies, some small parties, but getting them to contest on the AIADMK’s "two leaves" symbol.
10. Fielding newcomers in two of every three constituencies;
11. Projecting time and again that it is she and she alone who matters in the AIADMK and there are no power centres by getting all contestants, whether weighty or newcomers, to occupy a lower tier, at her meticulously planned election rallies;
12. Stepping up the pitch steadily, rally by rally, though sitting at a desk and speaking, to impress upon voters that arch-rival DMK was getting it all wrong by promising an instant ban on liquor at the first rally in her constituency. And then gradually tearing into the DMK and its ally Congress, as symbols of family politics and an alliance of the corrupt. Also emphasising that having the reins of governance, power and political influence within one family will shatter the idea of equal opportunity to all.
13. Focusing on one or other region-specific scheme at her rallies and pledging the AIADMK’s commitment to act on it to canvass for wider support, particularly among first time voters.
14. Dismissing the weak and disoriented Third Front, that included her principal ally of 2011, the MDMK, as unworthy of mention and inconsequential.