TAMIL NADU POLLS

Jaya set to hit campaign trail; AIADMK to contest 227 seats

India Politics Jayalalithaa will fight the elections from RK Nagar | AP

Jayalalithaa will hit the campaign trail on April 9 from RK Nagar

  • While DMK and Congress are fighting hard to settle the seat sharing, Jaya takes over the scene by announcing an aggressive candidate list for 227 constituencies

For those who have watched AIADMK prima donna Jayalalithaa Jeyaram throughout her political career in the last three decades, she has always taken her rivals by storm. Be it during her first stint as the leader of the AIADMK flock in the floor of the assembly in 1987 or as the chief minister in 1991 or in 1996 when she was made to step down or when she was convicted by a special court in the DA case and then let out on bail in 27 days, she has proved that she had graduated from being a leader to a legend herself.

This time too, when her arch rival M. Karunanidhi and his DMK are fighting hard to settle the seat sharing talks with their ally Congress, Jayalalithaa took over the scene by announcing an aggressive candidate list for 227 constituencies. In fact the AIADMK is contesting in all 234 constituencies—in 227 seats, the party will contest directly and in the remaining seven seats its allies will contest in party's symbol of two leaves.

“The candidate list is very promising for the AIADMK. More than that, it shows she is fully confident of a massive victory this time and she has played a very tactical move by being silent when other parties where trying to woo each other,” says senior journalist Durai Karna.

At a time when there are several rumours about her health, Jayalalithaa is set to hit the campaign trail on April 9 from RK Nagar, where she will fight the election. She would campaign from from April 9 to April 12 in the first phase. She won the by-poll from RK Nagar constituency in June 2015.

Earlier in 2011 she won from Sri Rangam but had to step down in 2014 after a special court in Karnataka convicted her in a Disproportionate Assets case. Apart from her, there are 30 women candidates in the list which also includes at least 100 new faces. The list has also accommodated party workers from the grass root level to the higher position, which will again prove handy for the contesting candidates and the workers in a party like the AIADMK.

Apparently, AIADMK’s ground work for elections began six months ago, when the Poes garden diva sent out an epistle to her cadres, asking them to start working boothwise in each constituency. She had in fact asked them to micro-manage the elections and prepare from ground zero. The party, which had remained MGR’s forte from its beginning, is all set to contest the maximum number of seats under Jayalalithaa.

jayalalithaa-poster-reuters Jayalalithaa has proved successful in renovating the party towards herself and in ensuring that the party would revolve around her | Reuters

A party which had revolved and evolved around MGR till a decade ago is now her forte. In fact, in 2009, she had to vie for a slice of the MGR votes, with both the DMK and Vijayakanth’s DMDK fighting for MGR legacy. But, for the first time, AIADMK will rely more and more on Jayalalithaa’s larger than life image for its election campaigns, while smiling pictures of MGR in his signature cap and dark glasses might find a smaller space. The songs from his old films, evoking memories of his times and his resounding mandate have already started relegating.

Jayalalithaa has proved successful in renovating the party towards herself and in ensuring that the party would revolve around her. In 2004 Lok Sabha polls, when her party won 37 out of 39 constituencies with 44 per cent mandate, she proved that hers is the single largest party in the state.

And now again, she has dared to take the party miles away from what MGR did to it and claim to the numero uno slot in the state, which she had been aiming for.

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