N Sathiya Moorthy in Madras
There is jubilation in the All India Anna DMK camp. In contrast, the ruling DMK is shell-shocked.
Hundreds of AIADMK cadres thronged the AIADMK headquarters and Jayalalitha's Poes Garden residence as early leads became available. They were guarded in their initial
response, with the memories of 1996 still haunting them.
While the AIADMK cadres had been hopeful of a clean sweep, it was their leadership that was reserved. It was not until Saturday evening, two days after the polling, that their assessment gave them a brighter picture than they were willing to believe. Even then, a landslide was not in their wildest dreams.
Cadres also thronged the residence of Tamil Maanila Congress founder G K Moopanar, whose party now feels justified and outwitted at the same time.
While his decision to align with the AIADMK has borne fruits, the landslide has ensured that Jayalalitha would not need Moopanar's support.
However, the poll results would serve Moopanar's dreams in a narrow way. Having given up his hopes of restoring 'Kamaraj rule' sometime ago, he is now confident of merging the TMC with the Congress on his terms.
With a substantial number of MLAs in his bag, he can now bargain from a position of strength.
Against this, the DMK leadership does not know what has hit them. While the party was willing to concede the defeat of a few of its ministers, it was still talking in terms of a coalition government.
True, the DMK has had a worse poll in 1991, but the sympathy wave caused by the poll-eve assassination of Rajiv Gandhi explained its disastrous performance then. Likewise, even for the reversal in 1984, the Indira Gandhi assassination and MGR's hospitalisation were cited as the reason.
Likewise in 1980, the DMK and the undivided Congress blamed each other's secret ambitions for the failure of the alliance against a weakened AIADMK.
The DMK now feels that a 'positive poll', based on a 'positive campaign' has not helped the party win this time.
At higher-levels, the cadre-based party blames it on the increasing elitism and sophistication of its second-rung leadership, which may have lost touch with ground realities.
Questions will now be raised about Karunanidhi's son M K Stalin. While most DMK leaders have lost their own seats to be of any great threat to Stalin, murmurs of protest would be heard in the party soon enough.
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