If in the absence of any such wave she still could coast to victory, that speaks volumes of her stocks with the people, so goes the argument.

Decoding TN polls Home economics for Jaya poll arithmetic against DMK
Voices TN2016 Friday, May 20, 2016 - 14:22

Puratchi Thalaivi (Revolutionary Leader) Idhaya Dheivam (God of our hearts) Amma has broken the jinx of the last few decades, by managing to return to power for a second successive term.  

 The AIADMK bagged 134 seats in the 232 Assembly constituencies, while the DMK and its allies including Congress and IUML gave a tough fight and emerged a strong opposition winning 98 seats in total.

It is not as if her charisma far outshines Karunanidhi’s or that it neutralizes all the negative perceptions about her lacklustre regime. Reporters on the field repeatedly said they could detect a strong undercurrent of anti-incumbency over a range of issues.

Still she could scrape through essentially because the PMK and the third front led by captain Vijayakanth split the anti-AIADMK votes to a considerable extent.

Some say this victory is even more dramatic than her mentor MGR’s back in 1984 – when he rode on a double sympathy wave, Mrs Gandhi had been assassinated and he was undergoing a critical surgery in USA.  Even in 1980 he perhaps won because of the people’s anger over the unjust dismissal of his government by a vengeful Mrs Indira Gandhi.

If in the absence of any such wave she still could coast to victory, that speaks volumes of her stocks with the people, so goes the argument.

That might be a bit too smart, but difficult to think such a haughty and totally insulated leader like Jayalalithaa could be even a notch higher than MGR in public esteem. He was a far more genial guy, though he too was equally capricious.

He might have been laughed at for different reasons, but was never scorned or viewed with any hostility, whereas Jayalalalithaa has been evoking strong emotions all the time.

In the northern belt clearly the Pattali Makkal Katchi made all the difference between victory and defeat for the DMK, likewise in central and western regions it was the DMDK-led front. Even otherwise AIADMK is strong in the west and the votes weaned away by captain and co has spelt the doom of the DMK.

But the point to be noted is that for all the ruckus over TASMAC shops, various corruption charges and indifferent governance, the ruling party has been able to not just hold on to its vote-share, but increase it, from 38.40 per cent in 2011 to 41 per cent – the DMK too, from 22.39 to 31.6, but unfortunately for it, the PMK notched up more than five per cent votes and the People’s Welfare Front another six per cent.

Now it is but plausible to argue the votes that went to the latter two could have gone to the DMK kitty if those parties had not gone off on their own, thus 11 per cent votes lost and that perhaps proved decisive.

Besides, free cell phones for ration -card-holders, 100 units of free electricity for all households, guaranteed job for one person in each family, free laptops and internet connections to students of class 11 and class 12, subsidy of 50% on scooters for women, education and farm loan waiver, such breathtaking freebies too would have played their role in winning over the voters.

When the AIADMK supremo had ensured distribution of all that was promised during 2011, people would have had little difficulty in assuming she would implement these freebies too, thus blunting any anti-incumbency sentiments that might have been there.

Certainly the lower classes, the women particularly, are feeling acutely the impact of the free flow of liquor, many a family ruined. Jaya’s promise of phased prohibition was meant to address that problem. Well the women might not have felt all that reassured, but what with laptops and cell phones all set to rain on them, they were prepared to shrug off the liquor evil.

Incidentally they are not all that dumb. The generous doles would be possible only from the vaulting TASMAC revenue, they know. Enough has been said on that account in the media.

Anyway they wouldn’t be able to rein in their hopeless, irresponsible men folk, so why not at least enjoy the freebies that result from their habits, even if abhorrent, they might have figured. The women had voted for her in a big way right across the state, reports do suggest.

Still Jayalalithaa might not have a smooth sailing inside the legislature yes, and the entire opposition could come together on a few issues at least and make her government’s life difficult both inside and outside the House.

Her own failing health is also a matter of concern. She has been putting on a brave face and trying her mighty best not to betray any of her ailments. But reports are she is finding it difficult to walk. Even when posing for the cameras after casting her vote, she had to lean on a desk, though rather discreetly.

Her health will remain a state secret to the end. Inevitably some proxies will be running the show for her, while she remains cooped up inside her bungalow, barring some occasional outings. What such a rule will mean for the people remains to be seen, but the Mannargudi clan is going to have a rollicking time of it.

Well, the fate of the AIADMK if Jayalalitha’s health becomes too very problematic, Stalin’s improved public image, possible opposition unity in the future, all these should exercise the minds of second rung AIADMK leaders, but for now they are entitled to enjoy the fruits of their labour.

As for the electorate, well, if it had not been Sasikala and her associates, it would have been the Gopalapuram-Alwarpet-Madurai clan that would be running amok. People perhaps thought centralized looting rather than devolved could make life that much tolerable for them.

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