7 reasons Tamil Nadu voted for Jayalalithaa again
Many of the voters did not want DMK back, even if they didn't feel convinced with Amma's policies.
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AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa has just broken the over two decade-old jinx of political verdict in Tamil Nadu by winning a second consecutive term, and it looks like the party is going to win 129 out of 232 seats and noteworthily, without any alliances. Here’s a look at some major reasons that could have contributed to Jayalalithaa's historic victory.
1. Freebies: For good or for bad, AIADMK’s greatest stroke of luck has been its supply of freebies. And those who avail of these free products are rarely the ones to raise questions on how the state's budget can accommodate such magnanimity - from free laptops, gold, water and milk to subsidised food. The latest in Amma’s goodie bag were free laptops.
2. Phased prohibition: Prohibition as a promise has been a decisive factor for the state's women voter base, whose primary concern has been the day-long functioning of TASMAC shops. On the other hand, prohibition in a phased manner has proved to be a strategic agenda for AIADMK in consolidating its male voter base. Remember, the DMK had stated that complete and immediate prohibition will be one of its first action points if it came to power.
3. Lone woman icon: The fact that AIADMK chose to contest without any alliances translated into Jayalalithaa’s badge of confidence as the lone woman taking on the male-dominated political set up in Tamil Nadu. Jayalalithaa has always enjoyed a strong fan base among the female population, as a symbol of women empowerment. Her pro-women manifesto promises such as 50 per cent subsidy on mopeds only fuelled this sentiment.The legacy of MG Ramachandran mattered.
4. No significant anti-incumbency: While there were several grievances among the public following the floods last year, they proved to be largely temporary and passing, with no major anti-AIADMK spirit prevailing. Flood-hit families availed of the relief money of Rs 5,000 and Rs 10,000 and issues such as AIADMK’s high-handedness in reportedly putting Amma stickers on relief material and Amma’s physical absence during the crisis were overlooked or quickly forgotten.
5. DMK’s failure to regain credibility: Even if Jayalalithaa’s government failed to deliver certain key promises, DMK on its part failed to cash in on this void or even regain its own credibility post its loss in the last elections. While both parties battled their own ghosts from the past – DMK, the 2G scam that led to its loss in the last election, and AIADMK, which buckled under Jayalilathaa’s disproportionate assets case – many of Amma's supporters and loyalists believe it to be a case fabricated by DMK. Also, no corrupt deals involving Amma or other members of the AIADMK emerged since the disproportionate assets case, while the 2G scam and charges of corruption became the final nail in the coffin for DMK.
6. Stand alone spirit: The decision to go solo may have worked in favour of AIADMK in Tamil Nadu, where smaller players are not seen to possess the kind of time-tested party structure that the two major parties – DMK and AIADMK - do. Alliance arithmetic, after all, has always been a tricky factor in politics. The fact that AIADMK - enjoying a vibrant legacy - chose to stand alone, also exuded immense poise on its part in the eyes of the voters.
7. The legacy of MG Ramachandran: Many first generation voters have voted for AIADMK owing to the fond nostalgia they have for the celebrated MGR, who founded AIADMK and remains the state’s most popular chief minister (1977-1987) till date. Interestingly, many of the voters opting for AIADMK could have made the choice from not wanting DMK back, even if they don’t necessarily feel as convinced with the functioning and policies of AIADMK as it has evolved today.