Tamil Nadu: Return of Jayalalithaa

Tamil Nadu could not afford to vote for a largely corrupt DMK.

Saswat Panigrahi

Riding on the anti-incumbency wave, J Jayalalithaa-led AIDMK has stormed to power on its own in Tamil Nadu routing M Karunanidhi-led DMK.

The decisive verdict outlines three important points. First, the people of the state rejected outright family domination over Tamil Nadu politics. It is not to dispute that Karunanidhi reduced governance to a family business. His family (as it is popularly known as K-company) was largely running the affairs of the state. His sons MK Azhagiri, MK Stalin, his daughter Kanimozhi and his English-speaking grandnephew Dayanidhi Maran were the players in the corridors of powers in the state. Looking at the ‘family governance’ of ‘K-company’ the people of Tamil Nadu were indeed fed up and waiting for change.
Second, in this election, Tamil Nadu could not afford to vote for a largely corrupt DMK. Tamil Nadu Assembly elections were held against the backdrop of the 2G spectrum scam. The 2G spectrum scam is billed as country`s biggest corruption scandal to date. The Comptroller and Auditor-General (CAG) of India pegged the revenue loss to the national exchequer by the scam at a staggering Rs 1.76 lakh crore.

It is a known fact that the DMK was the direct beneficiary from the scam. Former Telecom Minister A Raja, a trusted lieutenant of Karunanidhi is the prime accused of the scam. Karunanidhi’s daughter Kanimozhi is chargedsheeted in the case and is believed to be the brain behind the scam. His wife Dayalu Ammal is also linked to the fraud, but spared due to her old age. Hence, very obviously the DMK has had to face a fall out of this in this election.
There is no doubt that the 2G scam was largely responsible for a negative swing against DMK. The opposition parties AIADMK, MDMK, BJP, Janata Party, CPI and CPI(M) saw common ground in raising the issue. Ironically, Amma the biggest gainer from the issue even though she herself faces a series of corruption charges. Her land holdings and collection of sarees were once the talk of the town. Unfortunately, public memory is short. Besides, people have few other options. For this reason, the AIADMK chief has reasons to smile as she is all set to take over the reins of the state after five years. This election result also marks an end of the road for wheel-chair bound 87 years old Karunanidhi.

Third, the verdict in Tamil Nadu is also mainly based on the factor of anti-incumbency. The state has a long history of throwing out parties in power. Election after election shows negative swings against the ruling party. In the previous election in 2006, AIADMK had similarly been reduced to the margins. This time, the people of Tamil Nadu have punished the DMK.

From regional players, let’s move to the national players -- the Congress and BJP. Look where they stand.

For Congress, the alliance with DMK has proved as a liability. Now, it won’t be wrong to say that the handsome victory of AIDMK in Tamil Nadu and Trinamool in West Bengal could alter the equations at the Centre. The calculated ‘opportunity cost’ is on the rise.

The BJP could not gain anything from the fall of DMK, as its tally reduced to a cropper on the face of an undercurrent of Jaya wave.

Overall, DMK has much to introspect.

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