Lady Won The State But Stands Isolated
‘‘The lady in Tamil Nadu is better than Modi in Gujarat,” said Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa during the final phase of her campaign in the just concluded Parliament elections. After listing out a few parameters to support her stand and claiming that her state fared much better than Gujarat, she asked the electorate, who is the better administrator—Thamizh Naattin intha Ladiyaa allathu Gujaraathin Modiyaa?” (This Tamil Nadu lady or Gujarat Modi?).
She was very selective in listing out the parameters that are convenient for her, while deliberately leaving out important things that are not convenient to her. For example, she didn’t touch the important subjects of electricity, power supply, water supply, development of infrastructure, absence of freebie culture and total prohibition.
It would be very interesting to analyse why she took on the BJP and Narendra Modi only in the last phase of the election. The AIADMK was seen to be on a formidable stand due to its magnificent performance in the 2011 Assembly elections. As the state was readying for the general elections, the Communists (CPI and CPIM), who were with the AIADMK during the 2011 Assembly elections, preferred to continue with it. Two Muslim parties by name Indian National League (INL) and Tamil Maanila Muslim League (TMML), and other Jihadi outfits by name Tamil Nadu Tauheed Jamath (TNTJ) and Indian Tauheed Jamath (ITJ) extended their support to Jayalalithaa. The Roman Catholics and the Independent Churches of India also supported AIADMK.
As both the BJP and DMK were delaying the formation of their alliances, the AIADMK supremo gained in confidence, and with her typical arrogance, she announced her candidates for all the 40 constituencies (including the union territory of Pondicherry) to the utter shock and dismay of the two communist parties CPI and CPIM. Left in lurch after this ugly snub, the left parties decided to contest alone.
Initially Jayalalithaa restrained herself from criticising the BJP. In the beginning, she and her party started the campaign in style under the assumption that everything is going well and the party would win in all the 40 constituencies. Her party men indulged in sycophancy saying that she would be the Prime Minister of India, and Jayalalithaa, basking in that flattery, never bothered to restrain them. However, when the state intelligence reported that the fortunes of AIADMK was not as expected and that the third front led by BJP might bring a surprise, she changed her style of campaigning with a message that AIADMK would play a major role at the center in forming the next government. Giving her a shock, the Tamil Nadu Tauheed Jamath (TNTJ) left her alliance on the complaint that she was not attacking the BJP and that she might support BJP post elections for forming a government. The TNTJ, which was not contesting from any seats, decided to support DMK and Congress in their respective constituencies.
Jayalalithaa’s first attack on BJP started when she came to know of Modi’s visit to super star Rajnikanth’s house. She attacked BJP on the Cauvery issue. It must be noted that Rajnikanth, hailing from Karnataka, also involved himself in the Cauvery issue by undertaking a day-long fast against Karnataka government in the year 2002, when she was in power. Moreover, she was also terribly upset with the sudden leaving of TNTJ from the alliance, as she feared loss of Muslim votes. Since then she trained her guns on BJP without mincing any words. As the state intelligence also warned her that her party might lose a huge chunk of “Hindu votes” due to the Modi wave, she went berserk against BJP and Modi in order to retain the Hindu votes.
By the time the campaign entered the last phase, and Jayalalithaa started attacking BJP more aggressively comparing Tamil Nadu’s achievements vis-à-vis Gujarat and asked the electorate: “Who is great? Gujarat’s Modi or Tamil Nadu’s Lady?” On the other hand, the AIADMK local leaders spread a fabrication among the gullible masses that voting for AIADMK is as good as voting for Modi, since AIADMK would support Modi after elections. Despite knowing this sinister campaign of AIADMK well in advance, the TN BJP didn’t take any steps to thwart it.
Finally knowingly or unknowingly the Election Commission also helped the AIADMK by clamping prohibitory orders (which was not necessary at all) in the state under Section 144 for the last two days before the election, which came in handy for the ruling party to distribute bribe money (from Rs.200/- to Rs.3000/- depending upon the area) across the state allegedly by abusing government machinery including the police. Though the DMK, also involved in bribing voters, could not match the AIADMK, as the ruling party had the advantage of using official machinery. While all the opposition parties complained about bribing of voters, the EC couldn’t do much despite the fact that it caught crores of rupees at many places. In fact, the Chief Electoral Officer himself could not give a convincing reason for clamping prohibitory orders under Section 144, and he also conceded in his report after the elections that bribe money was indeed distributed at many places.
The State Unit of the BJP, instead of making full use of the Modi wave and focusing on select constituencies contesting alone, decided to form a third front projecting it as a credible alternative to AIADMK and DMK. The party took lot of time to stitch an alliance with parties which are diametrically opposite to one another and do not see each other eye to eye. Led by BJP, the alliance was consisted of Vijayakant-led DMDK (Desiya Munnetra Dravida Kazhakam), Vaiko’s MDMK (Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhakam), Dr. Ramadoss’s PMK (Pattali Makkal Katchi) and other small parties like Kongu Nadu Makkal Desiya Katchi (KMDK) led by E.R.Eswaran and Puthiya Neethi Katchi (PNK) led by A.C.Shanmugam. Another small party Inthiya Jananayaka Katchi (IJK) led by Chairman of SRM University Pachamuthu has been with BJP since 2011 assembly elections.
While forming the alliance itself took many days, the negotiations on seat sharing made further delay, and the alliance could start campaign only when 30 days were left for the election day. BJP kept 7 seats with it and gave 14 seats to DMDK, 8 to PMK, 7 to MDMK and 1 each to IJK, KMDK and PNK. The last three minor partners contested on BJP symbol. However, PMK was not happy with the allotment and Dr.Ramadoss openly expressed his disappointment. Even after the finalisation of seats, the campaign by the alliance was lackluster without proper coordination between the allies. PMK had its own campaign management and Dr.Ramadoss focused only on his son Anbumani’s constituency Dharmapuri. He didn’t even bother to campaign in other constituencies where his party men were contesting from. MDMK’s campaign was also not effective and the BJP state leaders restricted themselves within their constituencies. Apart from Modi’s subsequent campaigns in Chennai, Krishnagiri, Erode, Salem, Coimbatore, Ramnad and Kanyakumari, the campaign by Vijayakant and his wife Premalatha was the only remarkable performance. Both of them traveled across the state and covered almost all the constituencies including the ones where alliance parties were contesting.
The day after Jaya’s attack on BJP, Modi met Rajnikanth and taking his best wishes he went straight to the meeting venue in Chennai and attacked the AIADMK government during his address. However, apart from Modi, the other leaders from the state conspicuously refrained from attacking AIADMK, which turned out to be a huge mistake on their part. Surprisingly, they also refrained from attacking DMK on the spectrum issue, which was another huge mistake on their part. They presented a strange logic that state issues should not be taken up in the campaigns during parliament elections which are fought only for forming the central government. Such huge mistakes notwithstanding, the party did a great blunder of throwing away a winnable constituency. The candidate of Nilgiris (Ooty) constituency, by an alleged act of sabotage, deliberately failed to attach Form ‘A’ and Form ‘B’ with his nomination papers and got rejected by the electoral officer. It must be noted that 2G scam-tainted A.Raja was the DMK candidate in Nilgiris. The result showed 46,559 people opting for NOTA in Ooty.
Notwithstanding its great victory with a win of 37 out of 39 seats, the AIADMK stand isolated, since BJP has had a stupendous victory achieving a majority on its own with 282 seats in the Lok Saba. AIADMK may assume that the BJP must depend on its favour in the Rajya Saba, but that would be only shortived, for the BJP is expected to achieve many more victories in the forthcoming assembly elections in Maharashtra, Bihar, Haryana, etc., which would change the scenario in the Rajya Saba in course of time.
By B R Haran from Chennai