CHENNAI: After her return to power in Tamil Nadu, Chief Minister and AIADMK’s ruling deity knows nothing can stop her from sharing power in Delhi as things stand today. To this end, the not-so-backroom manoeuvres between the party and BJP are in full swing. From the time of Rajiv Gandhi, with whom Jayalalithaa shared an excellent political and personal rapport, to the 13-month NDA government, led by A B Vajpayee in 1998, when AIADMK had four Union ministers—R K Kumar, M Thambi Durai, Sedapatti R Muthiah and Kadambur Janardhanan, Amma has had her say in the power struggles at the Centre.
After the Jaya wave of May 2011, Amma is poised to follow through on her success in Tamil Nadu for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls as well. In a letter to the party cadres on the occasion of the 95th birth anniversary of her mentor and AIADMK founder MGR last week, she exhorted her partymen to prepare for the big day when the AIADMK will be a decisive force in national politics. “The big win in the State Assembly and local body elections of 2011 should be taken forward to New Delhi,” she said. She also declared that the party’s position in national politics will be one that will “decide the next Prime Minister”.
With generous grants to different sections of the society, from farmers to school students, unmarried girls to destitute women, homeless to elderly people, Amma has established herself as Tamil Nadu’s fairy godmother. She told party men that the state was marching ahead on all fronts, be it providing free of cost rice to eradicate hunger or facilitating a knowledge-based revolution by providing laptops to students. “Taking the legacy of MGR ahead, the government under the able leadership of Amma is working at a fast pace to make Tamil Nadu attain the numero uno position in India,” the party stated. “By providing free rice, words such as hunger and famine are being pushed out of Tamil Nadu. At the same time, the AIADMK government is facilitating the economic emancipation of the downtrodden by giving cows and goats free of cost,” Jayalalithaa pointed out.
The BJP has also begun crafting its poll alliances for the next general elections. BJP paterfamilias L K Advani calls the AIADMK a “natural ally”. He has stated that though the AIADMK was not formally a part of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), it has always shared an informal cooperation with AIADMK in the parliament. Advani opines that “Today, our country needs more and more transformational leaders like Jayalalithaa and Modi”. Modi being unleashed in Uttar Pradesh for the state poll campaign is seen as a signal that the BJP is seriously considering the Gujarat chief minister as a possible prime ministerial candidate for 2014.
Jayalalithaa’s equation with the Gujarat chief minister is very cordial and her open admiration was on display at her swearing in as Modi was one of the distinguished invitees. Then, on September 17, 2011, she had dispatched her representatives—V Maithreyan and M Thambi Durai to Ahmedabad where the Gujarat chief minister was sitting on his sadbhavana fast.
Jayalalithaa’s antipathy to the Congress party is well known. In the past too, she had been highly critical of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, even raising a question over her foreign origin.
Last week, both Modi and Advani had attended a function held to celebrate the 42nd anniversary of Tughlaq magazine, edited by Jaya confidante, the redoubtable Cho Ramaswamy. “If at all there is going to be a government supported by the BJP (and not led by it), I would prefer that it helps Jayalalithaa become the Prime Minister,” Ramaswamy said. To occupy 7 Race Course Road, Jayalalithaa needs the backing of either the BJP or the Congress. An accord with the Congress seems unlikely under the present circumstances.
The BJP will be the only choice for the AIADMK if Jayalalithaa’s plans of having a say at the government formation at the Centre have to fructify. However, to achieve that, the AIADMK will have to win all 39 Lok Sabha seats in Tamil Nadu plus 1 in Pondicherry. The other scenario is the AIADMK winning at least 30 L S seats provided there no national party with 125 Lok Sabha MPs. “Let us all resolve to take the AIADMK to a position in which the party will decide the direction of Indian polity,” Jayalalithaa’s letter to her party workers stated.