iconimg Wednesday, July 29, 2015

KV Lakshmana, Hindustan Times
Chennai, April 21, 2014
Matching Modi in word play and smart oneliners, Tamil Nadu chief minister and AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa on Monday demolished the Gujarat model with facts and asked people to decide between Narendra Modi in Tamil Nadu or Lady in India. Taking the help of statistics to prove that Tamil Nadu was way ahead of Gujarat on various social and economic indicators Jayalalithaa sharpened her attack on Modi by highlighting that Gujarat suffered more communal violence in the last eight years as compared to Tamil Nadu.

Her appeal to the voters was much in evidence at MGR market area in South Chennai as people waited patiently for about two hours for Jayalalithaa to arrive to address them. The moment her campaign van entered the MGR market crossing – where south, light and action was on – with a group of dancers performing to the tunes of old MGR hits and AIADMK’s election theme song, set to foot tapping music, blaring out from very powerful sound systems.

Cheers, whistles and claps rent the air in the shopping cum residential area as Jayalalithaa appeared in their midst, standing on an elevated platform on the campaign van.

Her speech was powerful in content but relatively modest in drama and action when compared to the person she was taking on – Modi – who comes across as a more dramatic, powerful actor cum orator with solid punchlines and catchy oneliners. On the content and facts front Jayalalithaa appeared to be on sounder footing than Modi.

So, when she was reeling off statistics that TN was ahead in food production, higher and better social indicators and development, the people stayed on to listen to her rather that escape the somewhat monotonous reading of comparative numbers. Jayalalithaa reads out from a prepared speech unlike Modi who speaks extempore, but along the lines of some talking points and specific targets in mind.

She did not take Modi’s name, but it was clear to everyone who she had her in mind.

“It is the human development index that shows whether a state has attained development and whether that has benefitted the poor and the middle class,” Jayalalithaa said. Gujarat, she said had 16.6 per cent of its population below the poverty level as compared to Tamil Nadu’s 11.3 per cent, Gujarat also suffered from higher infant mortality rate of 38 as compared to 21 of Tamil Nadu and even challenged his claims on Agriculture by citing Tamil Nadu food production during 2011-12 at a whopping 101.51 lakh tonne as compare to Gujarat’s 88.74 lakh tonnes.

Not only industrial workers were more in number but also Tamil Nadu attracted foreign direct investment of 15,252 crore in 2012-13 as against Gujarat’s Rs.2,676 crore, Jayalalithaa said asking people to think of all facts, issues and governance record before they vote on April 24.

Will it be Modi in Tamil Nadu or Lady in India, Jayalalithaa questioned the audience that broke into a wild cheer at her oneliner poser.

Jayalalithaa also pointed out that crime against women in Gurarat had gone up by 65 per cent in the last decade as compared with Tamil Nadu’s achievement of a fall in crime against women by 29%.

She asked the people as to who was the better administrator, Modi or Tamil Nadu’s lady, which was also greeted with thunderous applause by the audience.
“The day before Kalaignar (Karunanidhi) addressed a rally here, but in a different lane. The crowd was not even half as it is today,” said S  Gautaman, a shopkeeper in the MGR Market.

Some die hard fans of Amma came only for her darshan.

S Gautami, 24, a labourer from Vadapalani  had brought her six month old frail baby to the Amma meeting as there was no one else to look after her. When admonished by some fellow Amma followers to go back to the vehicle that brought her as the child may get accidentally crushed in the crowd, she refused point blank.

“Amma I must see,” she snapped back at the rest and turned her back on to them.