COIMBATORE: By winning a record 37 of the 39 Parliamentary seats in Tamil Nadu, AIADMK general secretary and Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa has clearly overshadowed her political mentor and party founder M G Ramachandran in electoral success. She has indeed come too far from the time she entered politics in 1982 under MGR’s overarching presence.
As a lone ranger, she has led the AIADMK to a historic win in a national election dominated by unprecedented political marketing of ‘Brand NaMo’ successfully weathering the combined onslaught of multiple opposition parties.
In several ways, this achievement is different from the electoral magic woven by MGR. One, for all his mass appeal, not once did MGR plough a lonely furrow in the electoral field. He chose to keep national parties in good humour conceding two-thirds of the Parliamentary seats to them in every general election. Jayalalithaa demolished this ‘MGR Formula’ in 1998 when she formed a victorious alliance with the BJP, PMK and MDMK giving them just five seats each and keeping the rest to herself.
This summer when she went a step ahead and contested in all 39 seats in Tamil Nadu and the lone seat in Puducherry not many saw it as a wise idea. The results have stunned political pundits. Although some political commentators have attributed this to the so-called “ruling party advantage in a multi-cornered contest”, the impressive victory margins in many constituencies tell an altogether different story.
Second, MGR, who projected himself as a do-gooder pitted against an “evil” DMK leader M Karunanidhi, could never make inroads into the urban constituencies in Chennai in his lifetime. Jayalalithaa through her perseverance has breached that last surviving fortress of the DMK. She began the journey in the 2001 local body polls, when her alliance won a majority in the Chennai Corporation Council and followed it up with impressive wins in the 2006 Assembly polls.
While the AIADMK won the Mayorship battle in all 10 Corporation Councils in the State, on Friday, all three DMK candidates in Chennai bit the dust. The AIADMK has single-handedly made similar inroads in northern Tamil Nadu, while consolidating its traditional strongholds in western and southern Tamil Nadu.
There may have been several factors that worked in favour of the AIADMK but two things were crucial in achieving this record - Jayalalithaa’s confidence and determination in striking gold as a lone ranger. Modi might have emerged as the national hero, but clearly Jayalalithaa appears to be like William Wordsworth’s Solitary Reaper. One may not comprehend her political song, but she has made everyone listen to her “motionless and still”.
Well, didn’t Jayalalithaa say that the Lady from Tamil Nadu is better than the Modi of Gujarat?