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How Jayalalithaa Pulled Off a Historic Win in Tamil Nadu

Despite being close to the BJP and other regional players, Jaya managed to go it alone, trusting her party cadres.

Zakka Jacob | CNN-News18

Updated:May 19, 2016, 9:48 PM IST
How Jayalalithaa Pulled Off a Historic Win in Tamil Nadu
File photo of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa. (PTI)

Quick Read

  • It's the first time in 30 years that a party has been elected for two consecutive terms in TN
  • Jayalalithaa trusted her instincts and contested alone
  • Women voters were solidly behind Jaya
  • She divided the Opposition , making sure DMK won't tie up with DMDK

Chennai: History was been made in Tamil Nadu. For the first time since 1984, an incumbent Chief Minister has been voted back to power. In 2016, Jayaraman Jayalalithaa has well and truly surpassed her mentor MG Ramachandran, who was the last sitting Chief Minister to win a return to office. But then, in the 1984 election MGR contested from his hospital bed at the Apollo Hospital in Chennai. He prevailed in the massive sympathy wave that swept through the state.

Ever since, the swinging politics of Tamil Nadu has alternated between the AIADMK and DMK for the last 30 years, In 2016, Jayalalithaa has shown she is well and truly the reigning Amma of Tamil Nadu.

So how did Jayaalithaa, who hasn't been in the best of health of late, manage to pull off this historic win? First, she trusted her instincts and went alone. Despite being close to the BJP and other regional players, Jaya managed to go it alone, trusting her party cadres who are the single biggest organised outfit in the state of Tamil Nadu. She also managed to divide the opposition, ensuring that the DMK did not tie up with Vijaykanth's DMDK.

The index of opposition unity was 65, the lowest in any election since 1967, which probably explains why in as many as 15 constituencies the margin of victory was less than 500 votes. This has never happened before in Tamil Nadu. The final tally turned out to be much closer than what normal TN elections have seen, in which one party or the other has swept big. This time, in a final tally of 232 out of 234 seats, the AIADMK won 134 seats while the DMK alliance won 98 seats. Such a close margin of just about 35 seats has never happened before.

The singular reason why the AIADMK has managed to achieve this historic vicotry is the women vote. Amma has a stranglehold over the women votebank.

In this election, five lakh more women voted compared to men. Outside the AIADMK's chief's residence at Poes Garden in Chennai, women party cadres outnumbered men almost two to one.

When this correspondent spoke to a few of these women, they said no one understands the plight of women as much as Amma does. Whether it is wet grinders, extra gold for thaalis and free laptops and cycles for girl students, Amma knows what works with the women votebank.

To break this stranglehold, the DMK was hoping to use the prohibition issue. Women, and particularly poor women, bear the brunt of rampant alcoholism in the state. Unfortunately, talk of prohibition coming from the DMK sounded hollow, as it was the DMK which lifted prohibition policy in the state back in the early seventies when it was in power. And people of Tamil Nadu don't forget, as they showed in this election.

The other myth that was broken in this election is that of the third front. Much was said about the third front, the People's Welfare Front, which comprised Vijaykanth, Vaiko, GK Vasan and the Left parties. They did not even open their account. Also, Vijaykanth finished third in his own constituency of Ulundurpet. And so did Anbumani Ramadoss of the PMK from his constituency of Pennagaram.

Clearly the voters of Tamil Nadu have made it clear there is no place for a 3rd or 4th front in Tamil Nadu. It was a straight fight between the two Dravidian parties, in which Amma prevailed over Kalaignar.

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