The atmosphere outside Jayalalithaa’s Poes Garden residence changed dramatically an hour after counting started on Thursday. Outside the most powerful address in Tamil Nadu, which was silent for two days after exit polls predicted her defeat, party workers started celebrating.
Jayalalithaa has bucked Tamil Nadu's trend of voting out a party after every five years. Except her mentor MG Ramachandran, nobody has done that in the last 30 years. She has also returned to power for the fourth term since 1991.
Only two exit polls – C-Voter and Thanthi TV - predicted her win. C-Voter gave her 139 seats and Thanthi TV gave her 111 seats. Amma has got a clear majority in the 234-member Assembly. Even though MK Stalin-led DMK gave a good fight, it failed to turn the tide against Jayalalithaa. The biggest losers are actor Vijayakanth, MDMK leader Vaiko, the rudderless Congress and PMK’s Dr. Anbumani Ramdoss who hoped to win on prohibition promise.
When the elections were declared two months ago, Amma was on a strong footing. Most pre-poll surveys had predicted her win. But, once campaigning picked up, the DMK- led alliance started looking stronger. The third parties in the fray – DMDK, MDMK, PMK etc also gave a scare.
But, Jayalalithaa proved everybody wrong and retained power in style, thus effectively ending the Karunanidhi era in Tamil Nadu politics. The 92-year-old DMK patriarch has won his last Assembly election. Like he did in the past, he may not even sit in the Assembly as an opposition member.
Amma Only Factor
Jayalalithaa was the only factor in the elections. Despite some health issues, she led her party, campaigned across the state and inspired her party cadres. Two weeks after the DMK released its manifesto, Jaya came out with her “populist” manifesto.
Fearing that PMK’s prohibition promise might eat into her votes, she too promised prohibition in a phased manner. During her campaign, she restrained from personal attacks and focused more on what she could do for the state. Her series of Amma schemes seem to have delivered a rich dividend in this election. Importantly, she refused to tie up with other political parties and fielded AIADMK candidates in 227 seats. She snubbed all “suitors”, including the BJP and GK Vasan. Her strategy worked very well.
Jaya has put the entire opposition in its place. She has proved that Vijayakanth, Vaiko, Anbumani etc are nothing but paper tigers. She has also dealt a body blow to MK Stalin who was hoping to become the chief minister. Jaya has consolidated her position as the strongest leader from the South. She also has 37 MPs in the Lok Sabha. She will certainly play a bigger role at the Centre using a remote control from Chennai.
She has scripted a remarkable win, and the next five years will be Amma’s years.