It’s different strokes for different folks in Tamil Nadu ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa mounts a national theme in her campaign -- focusing on economic growth and development—while her main opponent, the DMK, tries to pin her down on the issues of bijli, sadak and pani.
Her prime ministerial ambition much in evidence, Jayalalithaa never forgets the big picture when picking up local problems. At a rally in the agrarian Cauvery delta the other day, she ascribed the agricultural crisis to the Centre’s decisions: “The UPA government’s clearance to GM crops spells disaster for you but makes the MNCs happy.”
She comes out all guns blazing on economic issues – holding Messrs Manmohan Singh and P Chidambaram guilty of ruining the economy. Her attack is focused on national issues. The target is the Congress and, by association, the DMK which is her principal rival in the state.
Single-handedly, Jayalalithaa is taking on the DMK family — patriarch M Karunanidhi, son MK Stalin and daughter Kanimozhi – and the remainder of the political forces (the Congress, Left and the BJP-led formation comprising five regional parties) as she flies in and out of rally venues spread across the state’s length and breadth.
But her flying ways have come in for attack from the DMK.
As the virtual head of DMK, its treasurer MK Stalin rides across on his refurbished tempo traveler and takes a dig at Amma’s chopper: “We come to you fighting for your rights, unlike Jayalalithaa who is using a helicopter. She comes only during elections and, that too, in a chopper.”
His half-sister Kanimozhi starts by ridiculing Amma’s prime ministerial ambition: “She wants to become the PM… She promised several things, but never fulfilled them. She promised to give 20 litres of water free, but is now selling it in bottles.”
Continuing with the attack, she says: “Her government has failed on all fronts. Long power cuts are the order of the day even in cities. So you must vote for the DMK.”
Her father, DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi, tries to strike an emotional chord with his dramatic: “I may not see another election and this is my last.” At 90, he is among the oldest politicians campaigning in the searing summer heat. Family squabbles have left him weaker, but he still has the fighting spirit. “As long as you are with me, I don’t have any worries,” he tells voters.
Meanwhile, the other players carry on with their own campaign themes. The BJP-led formation is banking on the Modi buzz and awaits his arrival to boost its campaign. The Congress campaign for now is headed by Union finance minister P Chidambaram and Union shipping minister GK Vasan.