AIADMK will form the next government in Tamil Nadu: Jayalalitha
With the assembly elections just round the corner, the campaign juggernaut has started rolling through the streets of Tamil Nadu. While the 2G-scam hit Dravida Munnettra Kazhagam is doing everything it can to regain its popularity, Anna Dravida Munnettra Kazhagam chief Jayalalitha's whirlwind campaign is only gathering more steam. Rediff.com analyses the situation in poll-bound Tamil Nadu as election fever grips the state.
"The AIADMK will form a government in Tamil Nadu with comfortable majority. The public is disgusted with the DMK," AIADMK chief J Jayalalitha told rediff.com just after the completion of the first round of campaign in her constituency Srirangam for the upcoming assembly polls in Tamil Nadu.
When asked about the possibility of her party joining the United Progressive Allliance government at the Centre after June 2011 in the event of the party returning to power in the state, she refused to answer. Jayalalitha categorically stated that she will take a decision after meeting party leaders in a general council meeting.
"I will answer these questions on May 15 once the election results are declared," she said.
Interestingly, Jayalalitha has been very careful during this campaign. In fact, her speeches this year have been very different from her campaign for the 2009 Lok Sabha polls. She has refrained from attacking Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her party. Interestingly, she has not yet used the 2G card against the DMK.
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Image: AIADMK chief J Jayalalitha
Vijayakanth to give a boost to Jaya's fight against Karuna
Now that the DMDK has teamed up with the AIADMK, it has enhanced the prospects of Jayalalitha's party in the polls, according to Trichy-based media expert Nedunchezhian.
Image: DMDK founder-leader and actor Vijayakanth
'DMK will bribe you, follow your conscience'
On the third day of her election campaign in the rural pockets of Tiruchy district on Saturday, Jayalalitha highlighted her party's manifesto. Elated to see the enthusiastic crowd, she promised them that if elected to power, she would make Tamil Nadu a different state.
She was so jubilant that at one point she emerged on the top of her special campaign vehicle and repeatedly asked 'Did Karunanidhi take any fruitful steps to curb power cuts,' amid a series of negative replies from the audience.
"The DMK will try to give you money. Think well and follow your conscience," she added.
Image: AIADMK supporters at a rally
The changing faces of DMK
The DMK campaign trail has seen a major transformation over the years. In the early 50s, when the party was formed, its agenda revolved around the three As -- atheism, anti-Hindi and age. However, today the party is breaking away from its old policies.
In the early 1950s, DMK leader C N Annadurai who groomed M Karunanidhi spoke against believing in God. The cadres wore black shirts. But today, party supremo Karunanidhi and his family are often seen visiting temples and breaking coconuts as they pray for a successful campaign trail.
The DMK was very vocal about its anti-Hindi feeling in the 1960s. The party protested against the imposition of Hindi on Tamilians and insisted on making Tamil the first language of the state.
But today, Karunanidhi's great grandchildren and many of his followers have received education in Hindi. In fact, his granddaughter has completed her post graduation in Hindi from a local Hindi prachar sabha. The DMK government has appointed 18 Hindi-speaking Indian Administrative Service officers as district collectors and 12 IPS officers hailing from north India as district superintendents of police.
The third policy of the DMK, which included promoting young leaders, has been long forgotten. Almost all senior party leaders are above the age of 75. Some of them have opted not to contest elections; this is not because of their age but to pave the way for their next of kin.
Image: Karunanidhi with Kanimozhi, Dayalu Ammal and Dayanidhi Maran
'Fragile' Karunanidhi still DMK's star campaigner
DMK chief Karunanidhi's campaign trail is lackluster and sounds like a routine. His roaring voice was once gripping, but today he appears fatigued and his speech is not audible. But his popularity remains unmatched. He is still DMK's star campaigner, say political analysts.
On March 14, in a letter to the DMK party cadres, Karunanidhi said, "I know you won't expect me to undertake an intense election campaign this time. Even if my health does not permit so, I will engage myself in the campaign as far as possible with complete willpower."
He has started his campaign in his constituency Tiruvarur on March 23. Karunanidhi will be addressing election meetings at Coimbatore on March 30 and at Erode on March 31. He will visit Salem (April 1), Vellore (April 2), North Chennai (April 4), South Chennai (April 5), Madurai (April 6), Tindivanam and Villupuram (April 8), Pondicherry and Cuddalore (April 9) and end his campaign trail at Tiruvarur on April 11.
A senior DMK leader speculates that freebies and Karunanidhi's image alone can bring the party back to power.
On the other hand, DMK's senior leaders are turning to their wives to campaign for them. Tamil Nadu Deputy Chief Minister and DMK patriarch Karunanidhi's younger son MK Stalin's wife Durga has become a popular face. She takes care of 60 per cent of the electioneering in Stalin's Kolathur constituency.
Image: DMK chief Karunanidhi