The usual extravaganza was missing as men and women in small batches entered the sprawling island ground in Chennai, a few metres away from the state secretariat, opposite the Marina beach. The high decibel speakers blew in loud the old time MGR numbers. Huge cutouts of Jayalalithaa and two leaves stood up announcing the Poes Garden Diva's stubborn fight against her rivals.
Though the chairs were laid for 35,000 people, most laid empty as the AIADMK czarina entered the dais to launch her campaign for the ensuing 2016 elections in Tamil Nadu. Waving her hand at the cheering crowd, Amma, as called by her party men, immediately took the lone chair on the dais.
"We have implemented all the 54 promises in our 2011 manifesto. Tamil Nadu is now a power sufficient state. It was all because of me and the government headed by me. Vote for two leaves for me to continue to serve for you," she says before pointing out each of the promises delivered by her government in these five years.
Stating that she is for total prohibition ideologically, Jayalalithaa took a dig at her arch-rival and DMK leader M. Karunanidhi. "It was Karunanidhi who lifted prohibition in 1971. Now he talks about prohibition because of the fear of losing," she said.
Adding that total prohibition can be introduced only after deep research, she said, "on coming back to power, I will implement prohibition in a phased manner. Timing of the shops will be cut down at the first instance, number of shops will be reduced, then the bars associated with the shops will be closed down."
However Jayalalithaa's speech was a big disappointment for her cadres who expected her to take on her rivals more stronger than ever. The entire 40 minute speech revolved only around the promises delivered and the implementation of prohibition.
The usual enthusiasm in the campaign was missing as Jayalalithaa looked weak and pale unlike ever before. Though her stern voice like always enthused her cadres, it failed to grab people's attention.