Group President, Group Managing Director & Editor In Chief: Dr.Shelly Ahmed

Monday, March 31, 2014

Spotlight: Is Jayalalithaa The Canniest Politician Of India?

By Sandip Roy | INNLIVE

Is Jayalalithaa the canniest politician in the country? Amma does not say much. And the over-the-top posters of her devotees in Tamil Nadu are the laughing stock of social media like the one that showed her floating across a red carpet while world leaders from Barack Obama to Kim Jong-Un were photoshopped into reverence alongside her because East or West, Amma is Best. Her campaign slogan of “Peace, Prosperity and Progress” sounds hardly like something to fire up the electorate. 

But never underestimate the Lady from Poes Garden. It seems like pretty much every post May 16th configuration includes her which is not something one can say about all the other regional players.
First of all Jayalalithaa has kept quite mum about the BJP. She does not make any secret of her excellent personal rapport with Narendra Modi and has described herself as his “well-wisher” and called him her “good friend”. There have been reports that their prime ministerial ambitions have been driving the two apart. 

She also skipped a meeting with Modi in October at Madras University. But Jaya has always acceded to requests for travel facilities for Modi during his campaign trips. Unlike Mamata she does not describe the BJP under Modi as rioters. In Hyderabad, Modi praised “Dr. Jayalalithaa” for her work in skill development that he said her Congress-ruled neighbour Andhra Pradesh lacked. 

Jayalalithaa was an early part of the Third Front being put together by the CPM. The idea was that there could be a Third Front involving AIADMK, the Left Front, JD(U), BJD, JD(S) and SP. That came unstuck over seat-sharing. AIADMK unilaterally announced its candidates for all the seats. But a senior CPM leader still didn’t call the Third Front dead choosing instead to tell the Indian Express “We don’t hold anything against the AIADMK. 

It is only trying to maximise its electoral strength. We are in contact with them for a loose all-India alternative and will continue to be so.” The CPM’s Prakash Karat still maintains that if the election results don’t show a clear NDA victory, all non-Congress non-BJP options are still on the table. 

So Jayalalithaa is not out of that picture and if nothing else, she has proven unambiguously, that a Third Front is a non-starter without her. But the very day Jayalalithaa and CPM parted ways, Mamata Banerjee who had dismissed the Third Front as a Tired Front (largely because it includes her sworn enemy, the CPM) was on the phone to Chennai. Didi and Amma obviously exchanged more than sisterly greetings. 

And though both were cagey about what transpired some results are out there for all to see. First Mamata told a television interview she had “no problem” with Jayalalithaa becoming PM. Now The Hindu reports that Trinamool is withdrawing its candidate from the Vellore Lok Sabha seat in Tamil Nadu. 

“We have been asked to support all party candidates of AIADMK in Tamil Nadu,” M. Madasamy, Trinamool organizational secretary in Tamil Nadu. “The AIADMK, in turn, will support the Trinamool Congress candidate in the Andamans seat.” The Andamans has enough of a Tamil population that it could make a difference. 

Whether or not Amma gets to become prime minister after May 16th, if her tally of 9 Lok Sabha MPs gets closer to 40, everyone will have be sweet talking her because north or south or east or west, Amma is clearly the canniest. And she’s kept almost all her options open.
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