Chennai: J Jayalalithaa-led All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) was set to sweep the fourteenth assembly elections in Tamil Nadu leading in 191 of the 234 seats by late Friday morning, routing the incumbent party Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, which has battled corruption allegations in recent months.
“The election results prove that corruption is not going to fail this country anymore,” says R. Desikan, a Chennai-based consumer rights activist. “It is a great opportunity for Jayalalithaa and if pushes forward strong anti corruption measures she will have a much better future than she has now.”
It’s a sweet victory for the 63-year-old Jayalalithaa who has been out of power since 2006 and struggled to keep her party together in recent years.
It wasn’t immediately clear if the AIADMK will form the government alone or include key election ally cine actor Vijaykanth Naidu’s Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK) that won 26 of the 191 seats of the winning alliance, according early results.
For the DMK, the loss crushes dreams of the septuagenarian chief minister M Karunanidhi to extend his record-breaking reign and recasts the spotlight on the second-generation (2G) bribery scam involving his 43-year-old daughter Kanimozhi, whose bail plea will be decided by a special Delhi court on Saturday.
While poll watchers say the results reflects rural and urban public outcry for the telecom bribery scam, it is an uncertain signal for changes at the helm as the victorious Jayalalithaa herself has battled charges of corruption and excesses in the past.
“The state has been voting for complete stability and for a single party rule,” says 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.”
Outside the AIADMK leader’s residence in the posh Poes Garden area, firecrackers and drumbeats created a din in the otherwise quiet neighbourhood.
Referred to variously as “Madam”, Puratchi Thalaivi (revolutionary leader in Tamil) and the more popular Amma, Jayalalithaa was leading in her temple-town constituency, Srirangam.
Karunanidhi’s choice to contest out of the rural Thiruvarur constituency, where he was ahead, a likely measure to stall urban outrage for the telecom scandal, couldn’t stave DMK’s defeat.
The Tamil Nadu elections were predicted to be a close contest with two exit polls predicting opposition politician Jayalalithaa’s party being slightly ahead and one forecasting the opposite.
The elections held on 13 April, which saw a 78% turnout, were preceded by promises of free blenders, gold, and laptops and were marred with a seizure of Rs60 crore of unaccounted money by the election commission, income tax and other officials.
The AIADMK and its 10 partners lead in 191 constituencies, while the DMK front of 8 parties including key alliance partner Congress trailed with victories in just 43 constituencies. DMK’s key partner Congress won just 9 of the 63 seats it contested.
In the 2006, assembly elections Jayalalitha and her poll partners came ahead in 69 constituencies but was outdone by the DMK alliance in 163 constituencies.