Chennai: At 7 AM, the skies above Chennai seemed to promise better treatment after three days of pounding rain which began on the voting day, May 16. The rains made amends on counting day with the clouds allowing a watery sun to peak out. But the mood outside the residence of AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa was not cheery. Not yet. In fact, it was sombre.
When the counting began at 8 AM, anxious party workers gathered in Poes Garden were using phones to track the counting of votes polled for the 2016 Assembly election in Tamil Nadu. Jayalalithaa was priming to achieve a feat not seen in Dravidian politics. She was confident of getting re-elected by a people who alternated between the AIADMK and the DMK for decades.
Naturally, even a die-hard Amma fan will have panic attacks on counting day.
An hour later, the initial trends began to hint at an AIADMK lead in 94 constituencies. The DMK was said to be ahead in 53 constituencies. In a country that has seen scintillating drama on counting day, one was not surprised to see cadre of the ruling party preparing to celebrate. And how!
Scores of people flocked to her residence, enthused, in a trance of heady success. They started chanting "Puratchi Thailaivi" (Revolutionary leader). Well, their revelry was just as expected. Why?
The exit polls following voting day on Monday predicted that the DMK would have an edge, while of course, one predicted a close contest and only one gave AIADMK the lead. Nevertheless, the prevalant understanding was that DMK will return to power. Greeted with the news that she was returning after all, her supporters, understandably, got delirious with delight.
They waved party flags, danced exuberantly; many die-hard ones were out wearing myriad party merchandise on them. Some had their torsos painted with the AIADMK's two-leaves symbol or the smiling visage of the lady herself. One of the party woman cried: "We know Amma is the best. We know Amma will be re-elected. Long live Amma."
Another supporters said, "Amma has come up with many welfare schemes. She knows what the people of Tamil Nadu need."
As the trend became clear, slogans praising Amma only grew louder. The supporters there listed out her welfare schemes and the development under her regime.
Even before the final numbers were out, the supporters were ready with sweets and firecrackers. They were all ready to celebrate Amma's comeback. And when the trends were out and clear, they started distributing sweets and burst crackers near her residence.
It was followed by music. There arrived a crop of supporters with their bodies painted with AIADMK's trademark symbols and Amma's face. Not just that, a band entered the Poes Garden area to perform and scores of supporters danced to the tunes.
In all, the mood of the people can be described in two words -- enthusiasm and happiness.
Clearly, the AIADMK chief has set a kind of a record by coming back to power in a largely issue-less election. The election also proved the fallacy and the dangers involved in exit polls.