Modi doesn’t need Jaya much, yes. By the same token, how much does she need him?

Voices Thursday, June 12, 2014 - 05:30
By T.N. Gopalan It was indeed a stunning victory for the AIADMK in the Lok Sabha elections, as many as 37 seats, DMK drawing a blank. The last time Karunanidhi’s party fared so abysmally was back in 1991, held in the wake of the Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination. Then the AIADMK had an alliance with the Congress and won for itself only eleven seats. But now Amma was on her own and defied all predictions to so comprehensively sweep. Still for obvious reasons, the mood in the AIADMK camp is quite subdued. Like many others, she too should have hoped it would be a fractured mandate and major regional players could become kings or king-makers. As it turned out though, like the other unpredictable lady politician, from the east, Jayalalithaa too is sorely disappointed. If she had at least agreed to be part of the NDA, she might have enjoyed some national limelight and got some of her chamchas a couple of ministries. But such is the quirk of fate none of it has happened. She is in the same unenviable position as Mulayam Singh Yadav back in 2004, when his Samajwadi Party won 36 seats. The huge victory did not bring any cheers to him, as the UPA could form a government with the help of the Left and hence did not need anyone else’s support till towards the end of their term.  But at least for a while, the SP and the BSP could bask in their new-found significance after the CPM withdrew its support over the nuclear deal with US. Even that small pleasure and the accompanying advantages will be denied our Revolutionary Leader Madam J Jayalalithaa. Now she has to hope against hope that her fabled personal chemistry with the Prime Minister will work. If media reports are to be believed, Modi did tick off Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse on a whole range of issues when they met recently. The latter is said to have raged no end back home, smashing tea cups as he was deeply upset. Reports also claim that the new Indian PM sought to pressurize the Lankan leader to go beyond the 13th amendment to devolve power to the Tamil provinces. There have been some protest demos in Colombo by chauvinist sections. Meantime some fishermen taken into custody by the Lankan navy have also been released without much ado. While devolution is unlikely to happen in the near future, at least the detention of Tamil fishermen fishing in the environs of the Kacha Theevu could stop, if Modi ratchets up the pressure. That could be some relief for the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister. Even if nothing else happens on the Lankan front, like an international war crimes inquiry or more powers for the Tamil areas, an end to harassment of the Tamil fishermen in the Palk Bay could be touted as a victory of sorts. Even there it is difficult to see what amount of leverage India has. Lanka has been in the habit of playing China and Pak against India. The business friends of Narendra Modi won’t like to lose out more than what they have already. On the home front it could be even more difficult for Modi to oblige Jaya, say by arm-twisting Karnataka over Cauvery or Kerala over Mullaperiyar. He has waxed eloquent on co-operative federalism. Whether he means it or not, the point is for at least another year, he would try ensuring his government doesn’t earn any ill-will on any ground. He has been extremely cautious. In the circumstances one shouldn’t expect the Centre to go out of its way to please Amma, except by way of token gestures like in the form of greater financial allocation. The weakened opposition might keep taunting Jayalalithaa on all the issues mentioned above, but that is only flea-bite, not doing much of damage to her government. But there is another twist to the story too. Modi doesn’t need Jaya much, yes. By the same token, how much does she need him? With the DMK virtually annihilated and JJ’s government not failing much except on the power front, one doesn’t see much of a problem in her being returned to power two years hence. So a modicum of goodwill from the Centre should do. Jayalalithaa hasn’t gained much with her great sweep, true, but with a friendly government in power at the centre, her fortunes can only look up from here, even if not very dramatically. TN Gopalan is a senior journalist and Editor based out of Chennai The opinions expressed in this articles are the personal opinions of the author. The News Minute is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability or validity of any information in this article. The information, facts or opinions appearing in this article do not reflect the views of The News Minute and The News Minute does not assume any liability on the same.

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