“She was ill yes, but who is completely immune from illness?," said a party cadre.

For AIADMK cadres Island Grounds campaign-kickoff has been a big boostImage: Nishanth Krish
news TN2016 Sunday, April 10, 2016 - 17:56

An unusual quiet had set in at high-security Poes Garden, pavements lined with railings behind which cadres and fans spoke in murmurs. Even college-goers donning loud body paint and flashing their two-leaved placards whispered among themselves. 

The most noise was probably made when the police tried to escort scores of women clad in red who customarily prayed at the Mel Maruvathur Amman temple as a ritual before Amma’s campaign run. 

This silence is no sign of weakness, however. Cadres seemed extremely confident of Amma’s return, and for her to kick off her campaign with Island Grounds was for them, an assurance that seemed almost personal. After a seemingly long spell of illness which had left a few party members worried that the AIADMK had faced a minor setback, many in the party are relieved. 

“I think the illness was blown out of proportion and it was probably a conspiracy by the DMK to play on it as a weakness of Amma’s,” says a party member who works out of Poonamallee. “Stalin tried to pull a stunt with his pamphlet run, but he should know no piece of paper can outdo the level of support Amma has,” said a district secretary. 

“She was ill yes, but who is completely immune from illness? We have our doubts from time to time, who doesn’t? She keeps her party members in mind and knows that she has to protect our confidence just as much,” said a long-time party cadre, who he says has been around since MGR’s time. “I know politicians through illnesses, and they are particularly resilient. What makes anyone think Amma is any less?,” he says. 

The silence around the time of the floods did shake a few. "I think it was a little surprising to us that there was a sudden lull, because Amma is very proactive normally. We were mildly worried about the party, but when there is someone good who can bring about change, you have to have complete faith in them," a young party member said. Just then, a large SUV zips through and her fans try to peer into the tinted window. "False alarm!," yelled a boy from the crowd. 

The group of party members break into a chuckle, one of them saying, "These boys have been playing pranks like this for the past hour. But we are no fools, she has won our confidence. She will come back again."

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