The fireworks that celebrated her victory outside her house in Chennai sometimes made it hard to hear Jayalalithaa, but her message, hours after she was declared the winner of the Tamil Nadu elections, was unwavering. "Wherever I went in the last three years...the people were totally disgusted with DMK and were waiting for a chance to vent their anger against the DMK government. Once they got the opportunity, they showed their anger and resentment in no uncertain terms," she said to the hundreds of people gathered, flashes of light from the fireworks streaking her face.
Ahead of her appearance, M Karunandhi, the head of the DMK, resigned as Chief Minister of the state.
In the Tamil Nadu elections, voters have attached no terms and conditions to their support for Jayalalithaa and her allies - so definitive is their verdict. During her election campaign, Jayalalithaa had predicted that with her allies, she would win upwards of 185 of the 234 seats in the Tamil Nadu assembly. She has proved that was not just political bluster. With her allies, she has won 199 of the state's 234 assembly seats - a skyscraper of a victory in a bitterly-fought political landscape.
Party sources say the AIADMK leader was so confident of returning to power that she had booked the Madras University Centenary Hall for her swearing-in. Known for being superstitious, she has reportedly indicated that she'd like the ceremony to take place on Sunday.
It's typical of Tamil Nadu politics that much of Jayalalithaa's speech was devoted to a rigorous inquest of the wrongs of the DMK government that she has booted out. "Over the past five years, Tamil Nadu has been totally ruined...the economy has been ruined," she said. "It's not an easy task to rebuild the entire state. When the house itself has been damaged and debris is strewn all around, it is not an easy task to rebuild the house."
During her campaign, Jayalalithaa referred repeatedly to the 2G scam, reminding voters with every speech and rally that it was embedded in the First Family of the DMK. Analysts agree that the scam has battered the party in the elections. One of its senior-most leaders, A Raja, is now in jail for allegedly masterminding the scam when he was Telecom Minister in 2008. Mr Karunanidhi's daughter, M Kanimozhi, has been accused of accepting a 214-crore bribe along with Mr Raja. Tomorrow, a court in Delhi will decide whether she should go to jail.
The impact of the 2G scam on the DMK will resonate loudly at the Centre - where a series of corruption scams have dented the credibility of the ruling UPA and its leader, the Congress party. The verdict of the assembly elections in Tamil Nadu sends a loud and clear message to politicians - corruption is public's Enemy No 1.
The DMK contested 119 seats with 63 allotted to its partner, the Congress. Together, they did not manage even 40 seats. The Congress says it does not regret sticking with the DMK to contest the elections together in Tamil Nadu. "We are loyal allies," said the Congress spokesperson, Jayanthi Natarajan.
But privately, the party is no doubt rewinding to an offer made by Jayalalithaa when Mr Raja was sent to jail. She said that if the Congress expelled the DMK and its 18 MPs from the central government, she would step in as a replacement. The Congress had refused the invitation.
The combination of the 2G scam and its demolition in today's election will give the DMK little to none leverage at the Centre - where it has, in the past, flexed its muscle repeatedly, relying on the weight lent by its 18 MPs. But the Congress, analysts say, will not be let off the hook by the DMK, which will drive home the message that the Congress may have overplayed its hand by demanding 63 seats in a state where it is not a heavyweight.
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