AIADMK’s Comeback: Ten Takeaways for Tamil Nadu Politics
This is the first time since 1984 that an incumbent government has been re-elected in the state of Tamil Nadu. (Photo Courtesy: <i>The News Minute</i>)
This is the first time since 1984 that an incumbent government has been re-elected in the state of Tamil Nadu. (Photo Courtesy: The News Minute)

AIADMK’s Comeback: Ten Takeaways for Tamil Nadu Politics

The verdict is here and incumbent Chief Minster Jayalalithaa has made a resounding come-back to the rule the state of Tamil Nadu. Several exit-polls had predicted a loss for Jayalalithaa, but the results have shown that the anti-incumbency was overestimated, and so was the success of DMK’s campaign.

Significantly, this is the first time since 1984 that an incumbent government has been re-elected in the state of Tamil Nadu, and this has come as a historical blow to the DMK. MGR was the CM for Tamil Nadu three consecutive times, and now Jayalalithaa will be the CM for two consecutive terms.

But the elections result has important ramifications for the politics of Tamil Nadu at large.

Here 10 takeaways for Tamil Nadu politics.

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1. Politics of Cult-Worship Works

This is a vote for Jayalalithaa, and that the people of the state saw her face in every direction mattered. The AIADMK’s campaign messaging and government focused on building Brand Amma, with a slew of freebie schemes named after her, and reiterating her achievements as the chief minister. This could have had an important impact on voter behaviour.

2. MK Stalin’s Strategy Did Not Work

He tried hard, but he failed. MK Stalin and his team mounted a massive campaign, beginning from Namakku Nammey in mid-2015. He professionalised the DMK campaign machinery, brought in a young team which understood modern communication techniques – and they did a great job – but it could still not make the difference. MK Stalin needs to rework his strategy.

3. Tamil Nadu Politics Remains Bipolar

The third front in Tamil Nadu remains a weak force, and people still look to the two Dravidian majors to form the government, and this in spite of an unprecedented campaign against DMK and AIADMK by the other parties. There is disenchantment with DMK and AIADMK, but people do not see anyone else as a credible alternative.

4. Vijayakant is a Dud

Neither a king nor a kingmaker, Vijayakant has become a pauper. Not only has his party, even with the campaign strength of Vaiko and Left parties, not made a mark, he is losing his own seat. Standing without the support of either DMK or AIADMK has proved his real worth, which is apparently not much.

5. The Anger Against The DMK is Not Gone

The corruption taint of the DMK is still costing the party, and the perception of the party as untrustworthy remains. The DMK now needs to look at a post-Jayalalithaa scenario, and look to a new leadership. It has to work towards increasing its own voter-base, reach out to more demographics.

6. The Era of Karunanidhi Could Be Over

Karunanidhi is now a weakening force. He could not campaign full steam in the 2016 elections, and it is about time he hangs up his boots and makes way for a younger leadership. It can be very well argued that the disagreements between Stalin and M Karunanidhi over the former’s ascendency could have cost the party dear.

7. The Jayalalithaa Legacy is Here to Stay

Jayalalithaa has notched up one more record in TN politics, and this thrilling victory will go a long way in establishing her legacy in the state. This will only help the party spread its reach and power across the state further strengthening their stronghold.

8. The Left Is Becoming Politically Irrelevant

The decisions of the Left in the run-up to the polls, and its performance in the elections, shows how politically irrelevant it is to the politics of the state. Not only did they have to play third or fourth fiddle in the PWF-DMDK alliance, they have performed poorly with a dwindling vote-share.

9. DA Case Verdict Round The Corner

But the drama is not over yet for Tamil Nadu. The sword of the DA case still hangs over Jayalalithaa. The Supreme Court is in the final stages of hearing the case, and a verdict against her could give a boost to the opposition in the state.

10. Sasikala And Her Family Will Gain Further Stronghold

This is extremely good news for the Sasikala family. They will gain a further stronghold on the state, with the Mannargudi network further deepening its reach in the state’s machinery.

(This article has been published in collaboration with The News Minute.)

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