Will you do it? Will you do it for me?” That was the standard query with which Tamil Nadu CM and AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa concluded her campaign address. Whether she sought votes personally at rallies held at many a nook and cranny or through recorded speech that people listened to by calling a number, the question was the same. Now it is clear that most voters just did it, enabling her to notch up a victory that no other political leader in the state has achieved single-handedly in history.
Not even her mentor M G Ramachandran had garnered 37 of the 39 seats. That she pulled it off with aplomb on her own as the party’s lone star campaigner itself is something no other leader can boast of. But more than hard work, campaign strategy and vision, Jayalalithaa had a charisma that connected instantly with common people. Her clear language sans any bombast took her message to the masses.
At the same time, she devised a strategy to capture the imagination of the first-time voters through a dedicated technology wing. Going beyond a website, which alone drew tech-savvy youth in droves to enrol as party members online, the wing used other platforms like WhatsApp and other social networking sites.
Her message remained simple. Voting for her was only way to spur growth in the state. She mentioned her achievements as proof of her commitment and vision, and explained the need for her party to play a crucial role at the national level.
The mandate that has now been handed over to her is to influence policy decision at the Centre. There has always been resentment in the state that the Centre seldom considers the sentiments of the people of Tamil Nadu. By often taking a stand in support of the local people and activists who collectively oppose projects and policies of the Centre that are detrimental to their interests, Jayalalithaa has emerged as the only leader with the potential to champion their causes. She gained that image of a fearless politician capable of fighting for their rights as she repeatedly took on the Centre.
So, even if the BJP forms a government on its own as it already has an overwhelming majority in the floor of the House, the AIADMK will play a crucial role at the Centre, given the fact that the new government does not have the requisite numbers in the Rajya Sabha. Besides, the government will not be able to do business with the third largest party in the Lok Sabha if it were to take decisions that go against the interest of the people of Tamil Nadu.