Jayalalithaa, Tamil Nadu’s Iron Lady, on strong wicket (Profile)

May 15th, 2009 - 6:35 pm ICT by IANS  

By Venkatachari Jagannathan
Chennai, May 15 (IANS) Though all elections are crucial for a political party and its leader, the 15th Lok Sabha polls are rather special for the 61-year-old Iron Lady of Tamil Nadu, AIADMK chief J. Jayalalithaa.

Not only does her party need to make its presence felt in the Lok Sabha in these days of coalition party rule but also at the seat of power in the state, currently occupied by rival DMK.

If her party wins a good number of seats, there is an opportunity for a regional party leader to play a key role. Jayalalithaa with her impeccable English, decision-making ability and clear understanding of issues could emerge as a contender for the prime minister’s post.

In the 2004 general elections, AIADMK was routed by the DMK-led combine (Congress, Left parties, PMK, MDMK) that swept all the 39 seats in Tamil Nadu and the lone Puducherry seat.

Riding on the successful alliance, the DMK front won the assembly elections in 2006. However in the general election, the DMK-led coalition is unlikely to sail as smoothly as it did in the last two elections.

Barring the Congress, most other alliance partners have moved over to Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK camp. The DMK government - with 96 legislators - needs the support of the Congress, which has 34 members in the assembly.

If the AIADMK-led coalition wins a sizeable number of seats and the Congress succeeds in grabbing its support at the centre, then one of the bargains will be the withdrawal of Congress support to the DMK government.

“The Congress will happily do that as it was not treated fairly by the DMK,” political analyst Cho Ramaswamy told IANS, referring to the denial of ministerial berths to Congress MLAs.

“If the Congress is short of the requisite numbers and the BJP has it, Jayalalithaa will extend her support to the latter. On several issues, she and the BJP share similar views. If one goes by public perception, the AIADMK combine should win a good number of MPs this time.”

Whether it is the Congress or the BJP combine that the AIADMK front supports, what is sure is that Jayalalithaa would pressurise the new government to institute probes into the deals okayed by DMK ministers.

At the state level, for the first time in five decades, DMK leader and Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, 85, did not actively campaign for the party in these elections owing to bad health.

Given that his age is on the wrong side and his son and state minister M.K. Stalin yet to come into his own, the dice in Tamil Nadu now seems to be poised in favour of Jayalalithaa.

“Politics in Tamil Nadu will soon revolve around Jayalalithaa. The gain to AIADMK also depends on how Vijaykant and his party DMDK play their cards,” Ramaswamy said.

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