J Jayalalithaa appeared set to return to power in Tamil Nadu, early assembly election trends showed on Thursday morning, becoming the first chief minister in three decades to buck anti-incumbency in the state.
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The AIADMK led in 115 seats – just three short of the majority mark of 118 in an assembly of 234 – while the DMK-Congress combine was far behind at 77 and the PMK with four.
“Amma the varugaanga. Amma cheyya sadhani ki, adunala Amma tha varunum,” Only Amma will come. We all want Amma to come because of all she did for us,” said a female AIADMK worker amid thunderous slogan shouting outside Jayalalithaa’s residence at Poes Garden.
If the AIADMK wins, Jayalalithaa will become the first chief minister after her mentor and legendary actor MG Ramachandran won back-to-back elections.
But at the Gopalapuram residence of DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi, located within just a kilometer from Poes Garden, the mood was sombre and tense as party bigwigs congregated to watch the results.
Among those who went inside included MK Stalin, Kanimozhi, former telecom minister A Raja and the Maran brothers. The new arrivals walked into the house without even a wave or smile at the waiting press corps.
Even DMK supporters appeared shocked by the trends that showed AIADMK race ahead that will mean the curtains for the 91-year-old Karunanidhi. In what he said could be his last elections, Karunanidhi had also anointed his son Stalin as the next chief minister after him.
The other two chief ministerial candidates, Vijayakant of the PWF-DMDK-TMC combine and Anbumani Ramadoss of the Pattali Makkal Katchi were trailing in their respective constituencies.
Analysts predicted the anti-incumbency vote splitting in four directions would help the AIADMK, which appeared to be happening.
For the DMK, its failure to rope in other parties weakened its alliance.