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Why did AIADMK win in Tamil Nadu?

May 19, 2016

By retaining her government for the second consecutive term, J Jayalalithaa made history in Tamil Nadu. Despite All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazahagam’s seats share going down, Amma did prove most of the exit polls wrong by bouncing back to power. In the process, TN yet again proved that it hasn’t yet risen above cult politics that many had anticipated to diminish following the emergence of a “significant” third front in the state and multi-cornered fight. The only party to benefit a bit was the BJP though, which had never opened its account in the southern state.

AIADMK wins in Tamil Nadu

DMK could not match Jaya’s prowess

Not only that, the so called “Third Front” experiment ended with a whimper, but the votes were again largely divided between the rival outfits of two cult figures of TN politics – Jaya and M.Karunanidhi. Both have remained perfect rivals – each replacing the other as the chief minister every five years since 1991. However, for once, Karunanidhi’s DMK, despite doing better than what it had done in the 2011 state elections, could not match Jaya’s prowess this time. The DMK’s alliance partner, the Congress, too could do little even though it marginally improved its tally (It had won 5 seats in 2011).

In the state election, largely touted as a match between two fallen icons with both Jaya and Karuna fighting charges of corruption, the third front was hoping to benefit and so was S. Ramadoss’s Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK). Yet, none could have ignored the fact that despite having faced the ignominy of being the first ever sitting CM to be incarcerated for corruption in 2014, Jaya had bounced back credibly, first by winning the legal battle over her “disproportionate” assets in the courts, and thereafter winning handsomely her assembly seat after her acquittal last year. She had then returned as CM in style by securing 88.43% votes in Radhakrishnan Nagar constituency in the by-election.

The fact that even her incarceration period saw suicides by her fans speaks volumes of her fanfare and the enigma that she is. The fact that she retained an iron grip on her party despite being in jail speaks of her aura and clout not just in her party but in state politics. She read the situation well and decided to go alone this election with more operational freedom and more opportunities to flaunt her clout. This was in sharp contrast to her rival Karunanidhi’s engagement in family feud over his succession.

Her welfare measures struck the tight chord

Besides, Jaya’s Cauvery Gazette notification awarded in 2013, subsidies on seeds, fertilisers, machinery and her move to provide 100 per cent subsidy to small and micro farmers and 75 per cent subsidy to other farmers last year helped her getting public endorsement as she went all out branding the DMK as ‘anti-farmer’ while promising waiver of all loans for micro and small farmers in course of her poll campaigns. With a majority of votes in the state comprising rural voters, her social welfare schemes under Amma brand such as Amma canteens, Amma cement etc. too struck the right chord with the voters.
Now following the latest verdict at the hustings, Amma has indeed enhanced her larger than life image.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed are of those of the author and do not represent the views of

I am a journalist, educationist and filmmaker with over twenty years of experience in the media industry. I have worked in different capacities in all formats (print, television and web) in prestigious media organizations in India and abroad. As a journalist I have covered social issues, natural calamities, successive state assembly as well as parliament elections since 1989, government offices, Indian political parties, state legislative assemblies as well as Indian Parliament.