Trumping both rivals and allies, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa is all set to begin her campaigning for the coming Lok Sabha elections. She will kick off the first phase of her campaign with a public meeting in the temple town of Kancheepuram on Monday, and is scheduled to address similar meetings in 16 places, covering a total of 19 constituencies over a period that will last just over a month.
Jayalalithaa would address the public meeting at each of these places, and introduce the candidates her party has named for the respective constituencies. The AIADMK has announced candidates for all 39 constituencies in Tamil Nadu and the lone seat in Puducherry. The party had also announced that its candidates would be withdrawn in those constituencies which are to be contested by the AIADMK’s allies - CPM and CPI. A statement from the AIADMK, however, said Jayalalithaa would address public meetings in support of each candidate of her alliance.
The AIADMK is the first party in the State to start campaigning for the LS polls, with the exception of the BJP, which held one public meeting near Chennai early in February. The campaign starts even as seat sharing talks between the AIADMK and its allies continue. The talks are being carried out on behalf of the AIADMK by a committee comprising the four senior most ministers of Jaylalaithaa’s cabinet. The first phase of Jayalalithaa’s campaign would be spread out across a month, ending on April 5 in Sankarankoil.
Ahead of the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, Jayalalithaa had raced through all 40 constituencies, sometimes even addressing two public meetings a day. But this time around the staggered campaign has been attributed to her demands of her responsibilities as Chief Minister. Jayalalithaa’s schedule for the first phase would see her campaigning on consecutive days only once, giving breaks between appearances.
Jayalalithaa is expected to take the fight to the Congress-led government at the Centre as well as its erstwhile ally, the DMK. She is likely to spit fire on a number of fronts concerning the Centre’s handling of issues relating to Tamil Nadu, such as the fishermen issue, Sri Lankan Tamil issue and the transgression of the State’s rights. Other issues that are likely to receive prominence are continuing price rise, corruption and the slowdown in economic growth.