YEH HAI INDIA
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Gift your parents good health
Kandamannur, a small village with 6000 voters, is from where former Tamil Nadu chief minister and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagham chief J Jayalalithaa chose to begin her campaign for the Andipatti by-poll, on Wednesday.
Though her meeting was scheduled for 1500 hours, such was the excitement among the people that they had begun to throng the venue one hour before the appointed time.
A number of leaders were in attendance to keep the crowd occupied while they waited for 'amma'. In between their speeches, each one said that 'Amma would be here any moment'.
But it was the daily Dina Thanthi's reporter who got the timing right. He predicted that 'amma' would turn up between 1645 and 1700 hours.
She made a dramatic entry at 1650 hours in an impressive convoy comprising five vans full of cops, five vans of mediapersons and one van from the Apollo hospital emergency service.
She got down from her van and stood on an open jeep to let every one get a good look at her.
However, without wasting much time, Jayalalithaa got down to business.
"I am proud to contest the poll from the constituency, which elected MGR to power," she started.
She reminded her audience of the time when AIADMK founder M G Ramachandran won the poll from this constituency even while he was convalescing in a hospital in the United States.
She had been in Andipatti at the time, canvassing for MGR. But, she told the audience, this time she had come to seek votes for herself.
Significantly, while the people call her 'amma' (mother), Jayalalithaa sought to project herself as their sister.
Of course, her speech would be incomplete if DMK president M Karunanidhi were not to figure in it. And, she made sure that he got his share of criticism.
Then the promises began - rice at Re one a kilo, noon meal scheme, free power to farmers (no mention of the power regulatory board or the World Bank recommendation).
Lest she forgot to mention local problems, a party cadre thoughtfully gave her a placard listing some demands, which Jayalalithaa dutifully read out - water for drinking and irrigation, construction of roads, a medical college and so on.
"Everybody will hear about Andipatti. I will make it the premier assembly constituency in India," she promised to thunderous applause from the audience.
All the while, Jayalalithaa kept turning around so that everybody all round could see her clearly.
However, just to be doubly sure about getting their loyalty and their votes, she broke into a song, which was sung by MGR's fans when he was not well.
That had the desired effect and there was clapping and cheering all around.
Certain that she had struck the right cord, the AIADMK leader raised slogans, which were enthusiastically echoed by the audience.
Among the sloganeering, she emphasised her party's poll symbol - two leaves.
Satisfied with the response, Jayalalithaa smiled benignly, like a goddess at her devotees, and slowly descended from the jeep as AIADMK cadre shouted slogans praising her.
Having mesmerised Kandamannur, she took off in her impressive convoy to the next meeting.
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