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Jaya scored a self - goal

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The Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly election result is out and the front-runner Jayalalitha is out. And her only rival in politics M. Karunanidhi is in.

Of course, if we observe the general pattern of winners and losers in elections after elections, it is found voters often wish to change their rulers every five years or whenever there is an election except probably in the State of West Bengal, where it has always been the Left Front ever since the Congress was dislodged nearly four decades ago. It was only MGR who won twice consecutively.

However, compared to M. Karunanidhi's devastating defeat in the last election, where he could win just one or two seats, Jaya's performance this time is really commendable as much as it is surprising. In fact, going by the poll surveys Karunanidhi's is an upset victory.

Jayalalitha has secured 70 seats, which is no mean achievement considering the odds she was faced with because of her many unpopular administrative decisions. For example the way she handled the Government employees' strike and the Anti - Conversion Act, (which was annulled after she was routed in the 2004 Parliament elections). After all, in India minority vote is the cutting edge, decisive vote that determines the victory or defeat of a candidate by a few marginal votes. That was an unwise step on her part politically.

There is no doubt that in the five years' administration of Jaya, Tamil Nadu Government got the best compared to the past many decades after Dravidian parties came to power in 1967. If Jaya's earlier rule was notoriously famous for corruption, vulgar display of wealth and open show of arrogance, this time round she really wanted to give good administration and in fact she did give it.

Take for example, the speed with which she put an end to the chronic water problem of Chennai city. It is said the project to end the endemic problem of water shortage to Chennai city was conceived and executed with great effort, expense and ingenuity by outsourcing water from a perennial river source over 200 kms away. Those who have lived in Chennai for over 40 years, consider this as a great feat on the part of Puratchi Thalaivi.
However, I think this time round if she could get 70 seats, she could well have got double that number, if only she had not shown herself as a vengeful person soon after coming to power five years ago. She showed up her Chamundi avatar (incidentally she is a devout worshipper of Chamundeshwari atop our Chamundi Hill), first by arresting DMK supremo M. Karunanidhi in a midnight coup – of - sorts which was beamed across the country by TVs and by Karunanidhi's Sun TV continuously for over a month apart from the print media.

And another politically unwise action taken by her, which was also a vengeful move, was the arrest of Sri Jayendra Saraswathi, the Seer of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Mutt, with a large following both of the laity as also the rich and the influential, in Shankara Raman murder case followed by a number of foisted criminal cases which appeared to the public as being filed to further harass and humiliate the old Saint for the reason nobody knew for real. Sometime in someway the Swamiji was said to have either offended Jaya or let her down. I do not know.

Anyway, she indeed must have lost a large chunk of Brahmin votes. In retrospect, it is unfortunate, that she in fact fell into the trap set by Karunanidhi who was wanting the arrest of a very “influential and powerful man” without naming Sri Jayendra Saraswathi by name, in connection with the Shankara Raman murder case. Jaya, rather foolishly, must have thought that the arrest and harassment of Kanchi Seer would help her win back the support of the minority communities like Muslims and Christians who were upset with her for the Anti-Conversion Act. Sadly, it did not work that way.

But, if we go by The Hindu — CNN — IBM poll survey, as also of others, the fight this time was neck – to - neck with DMK having an edge. And in such a situation, often the winning edge shifted to the front-runner as the result has shown. Many expected Amma to win this time like her mentor MGR in the past. But, it did not happen, apparently for the reasons mentioned above.

That, in spite of all those minus points Jaya could get 70 seats in this election proves that at the end of the day people always back those who give good administration, good governance, which Jayalalitha did give this time.

Now that the 83-year-old Karunanidhi is back on the saddle let us hope that he will not take revenge on Jaya for his earlier arrest and make a mockery of politics. Yes, Jaya did what she did probably because Karunanidhi too had got her arrested and had even put her in jail for a few days in connection with a number of corruption cases that were registered against her. But then, in victory one should be magnanimous like Alexander The Great and not brutal and vengeful like Chengis Khan.

By the way this is the most opportune time for Karunanidhi to anoint his son Stalin, who has also been elected to the Assembly, as his successor both as the supremo of the party and Chief Minister. The coronation might take place should Karunanidhi's health deteriorate, or, may be, when he decides to retire gracefully in the manner of Jyothi Basu of West Bengal who vacated the office in a dignified manner making way for Buddhadeb Bhattacharya.

I am just wondering whatever happened to all the pujas and offerings made to any number of Gods and Goddesses across India by Jaya for victory in the election. Since Karunanidhi is an atheist he seems to believe in Janatha Janardhan rather than the Janardhan (God) found in temples and places of worship. And at the end, it is the Janata Janardhan who brought victory and not the Janardhan in the temple! Sadly for Jaya this election was like scoring a self-goal. It was her own doing.

And finally, since finality is not the language of politics as the British politician Benjamin Disraeli said, there is hope for Jaya. After all, politics is no exact science.

By K. B. Ganapathy
Chief Editor,
Star of Mysore,

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