Tamil Diplomat

Jayalalitha Tops Popularity in Tamil Nadu

Ms J Jayalalitha might have been convicted and may be out of Chief Ministership and may be at home on parole, but her popularity in the city of Chennai still tops the chart. Nothing is more in evidence and concrete proof of her popularity than her thumping victory in the srirangam by election to the assembly.

The srirangam assembly seat fell vacant following her disqualification after her conviction in the assets disproportionate case. She fielded a confidante Ms Valarmathi from this constituency – rest is history, opposition parties including the DMK had to eat humble pie.

How do you describe one who is no longer a CM in a state where sobriquets for celebrities are the order of the day. Jayalalithatha is popularly known as puratchi thalaivi, meaning revolutionary leader, a sobriquet which her fans and admirers appropriated from the previous idol former CM MGR, who was affectionately called puratchi thalaivar – revolutionary leader..

Look at the wall paintings that have now appeared all over the city prior to her birthday , just a fortnight away, February 24, next Tuesday. . She is now described as Makkal Mudalvar “ Peoples Leader” or the first citizen, where she was earlier described as Tamil Nadu Mudalvar, the CM.

All district secretaries have put up wall paintings. Sample this one which has come up on the wall of former BCCI President Srinivasan’s erstwhile house now occupied by his brother.

Even more stunning display  of loyalty was a scene I witnessed of a state minister in O Pannerselvam’s cabinet. I was travelling from Tirunalveli to Chennai and this minister accompanied by full entourage of pa’s and security staff entered the train carrying a photo frame of his beloved leader jayalalitha .

The photo was then placed on the tray where one places food items on the train. I am quite sure even Jayalalitha would not have been happy with this public display of loyalty. Loyalty should be within party circles and not exaggerated in public to win a leaders respect because it ends up parodying the person you are supposed to show respect to, claimed one intellectual who saw the incident on the train.

It is common knowledge that Tamil Nadu government now runs by proxy. While Jayalalitha was difficult to meet as CM , the new CM Pannerselvam is easy to meet. It is also common knowledge among political circles that Pannerselvam briefs Jayalalitha of all meetings and events and she still calls the shots from her poise garden residence in the heart of Chennai where she stays confined on bail as the assets disproportionate case and her appeal against it continues in the courts of Bengaluru.

A very interesting development is the upcoming assembly by election from Srirangam, home town of Jayalalitha, where she has fielded a woman candidate and according to political pundits, the candidate is said to win hands down, riding on the sympathy wave of Jayalalitha.

In Tamil Nadu, MGR swept an assembly election while convalescing in a bed in USA after a kidney transplant operation. He did not have to go to the electorate physically but his movies, songs and photos and posters did the election round to earn him a massive victory – a sympathy wave on his illness.

Same will perhaps repeat for Jayalalitha in the upcoming 2016 elections. BJP, which has just suffered a major reverse in the capital city of Delhi at the hands of AAP, will be keen to tie up with Jayalalitha for the 2016 elections , but she may keep her options reserved because of the verdict in delhi, claim political observers here. She may prefer to go alone which would guarantee her more success at the hustings.

Again, DMK, which is debating on whether to continue with the Congress or team up with BJP, is now left in a quandary, as both parties have fared very badly in the Delhi assembly elections. DMK has no option to but to go it alone at a time when its alliance partners are deserting it one by one.

The fate of Tamil Nadu now hangs in the balance for the 2016 assembly elections because of uncertainties over whether Jayalalitha wins her appeal against her conviction  in the assets disproportionate case in the courts in Bengaluru. Whether the family feuds within the DMK front – the fight between brothers Stalin and Alagiri over the trust funds and power and with step sister Kannimozhi deeply embroiled in the 2G spectrum case with party colleague Raja and former telecom minister will divide voters at the polls.

The Indian Awazz