Chennai: The J. Jayalalithaa-led All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) disproved poll forecasters to win a thumping majority in the assembly elections in Tamil Nadu, sweeping 204 of 234 seats along with allies, bulldozing incumbent Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, which has been battling corruption allegations in recent months.
“The people (of Tamil Nadu) were totally disgusted with the DMK government and were waiting for a chance to vent their anger,” said Jayalalithaa at an early evening press conference on Friday at her Poes Garden residence in central Chennai. “They showed their anger in no uncertain terms.”
As temperatures soared to nearly 40 degrees Celsius in the city, sweat-drenched but ecstatic supporters elbowed for space outside the tall black gates of Jayalalithaa’s one-storeyed home to catch a glimpse of their leader and complained as police personnel stopped them from entering the residence. All roads in the AIADMK’s leader’s neighbourhood were blocked with cars of bureaucrats, the city’s police heads and supporters. Several people walked with bouquets of roses and other flowers to her residence.
Party time:AIADMK workers celebrating near party chief Jayalalithaa’s residence in Chennai.Photo R. Senthil Kumar/PTI
Just a few kilometres away on the other side of Dr Radhakrishnan Road at Gopalapuram, the residence of M. Karunanidhi wore a forlorn look, with few cameramen, no flowers or firecrackers and not too many visitors.
Also See | Tamil Nadu: Key Winners And Losers (PDF)
“The state has been voting for complete stability and for single-party rule,” said A.S. Panneerselvan, executive director of Panos South Asia, a group that supports investigative journalism. Panneerselvan is writing a book on Karunanidhi. “We have to wait for the first 100 days of the new party’s rule to see if this really means a change for the state.”
Jayalalithaa, 63, has been out of power since 2006 and has struggled to keep her party together in recent years. The AIADMK will form the government alone, without key election ally, Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK), led by film star Vijaykant.
“We have full majority and we will form the government,” said AIADMK spokesperson V. Maitreyan in a telephone conversation.
The DMK loss put an end to octogenarian chief minister Karunanidhi’s ambition to win another five-year term. The DMK and its leader will now have to contend with the investigations into alleged wrongdoing in second generation (2G) spectrum allocation, in which his 43-year-old daughter Kanimozhi has been charged. Her bail plea will be decided by a special court in Delhi on Saturday.
Analysts say the results reflect public disquiet over the 2G investigation, but Jayalalithaa herself has battled charges of corruption and excesses in the past.
“The havoc that has been brought about in Tamil Nadu is beyond description,” Jayalalithaa told reporters as she tried to make herself heard over the din of firecrackers outside her home. “It is a difficult task but we take it up as a challenge. Our first priority is to restore the law and order.”
The AIADMK chief asserted that she would fulfil all promises in her party’s manifesto within a year-and-a-half. Jayalalithaa has promised voters up to 20 kg free rice for ration card holders, mixers and grinders for mothers, laptops for college goers, gold for brides-to-be and free bus passes for senior citizens.
Referred to variously as madam, puratchi thalaivi (revolutionary leader in Tamil) and the more popular amma, Jayalalithaa won by 41,848 votes in her temple-town constituency, Srirangam, against the DMK’s N. Anand.
Karunanidhi’s choice to contest from the rural Thiruvarur constituency paid off as he easily got 109,014 votes, nearly double that of AIADMK candidate M. Rajendran.
The Tamil Nadu elections were forecast to be a close contest with two exit polls predicting Jayalalithaa’s party as being slightly ahead and a third the opposite result.
“I think the public has made an astounding statement with its vote,” says Madras high court advocate N.L. Rajah. “There cannot be a trade-off between freebies and corruption, and the public has said that we will not look the other way if you are corrupt. They detest politicians treating parties as their personal fiefdom. Political parties must take note of these loud statements for their own survival.”
The elections held on 13 April, which saw a 75% turnout, were preceded by promises of various freebies and were marred by the seizure of Rs 60 crore of unaccounted money by the Election Commission, income tax department and other agencies.
The AIADMK and its 10 partners won in 204 constituencies, while the DMK front of eight parties, including key alliance partner Congress, trailed with victories in just 30 constituencies. The DMK’s key partner Congress won just five of the 63 seats it contested. In the 2006 assembly elections, Jayalalithaa and her poll partners won 69 seats but was defeated by the DMK-led alliance that won 163 constituencies.
“The election results prove that corruption is not going to fail this country anymore,” said R. Desikan, a Chennai-based consumer rights activist. “It is a great opportunity for Jayalalithaa and if she pushes forward strong anti-corruption measures, she will have a much better future.”
2G spectrum allocation case
The Central Bureau of Investigation is investigating the DMK’s former Union telecom minister A. Raja and also Kanimozhi, a Rajya Sabha member and daughter of DMK patriarch M. Karunanidhi, in the case. The allegations of corruption was a key plank of the opposition’s poll campaign.
Key agenda of the winning party
•Free laptops for all higher secondary students as well as arts and science college students
•20kg rice for all ration card-holders
•Rs 1.8 lakh to the poor as subsidy for constructing houses
•Special welfare scheme for Sri Lankan Tamil refugees lodged in camps across the state
•20 litres mineral water per day for below poverty level people
•The elderly abandoned by their wards will be lodged in homes with three
meals a day, medical check-ups and library facilities
The Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), founded by P. Ramadoss, has ended up on the losing side again after switching to the DMK alliance from Jayalalithaa’s side. In the 2009 Lok Sabha election, Ramadoss had quit the DMK alliance to join forces with the AIADMK, which lost out.
•Film star Vijaykant’s Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK), positioned as an alternative to the two main blocs in the state when founded, fought alongside the AIADMK this time. But with Jayalalithaa indicating she’s in no mood to share power, that switch may not turn out to be gainful.
Election voting per cent overall