Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa may have outraged the political class by her decision to release the seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case but her status as a potential ally after the Lok Sabha elections remains intact.
With pollsters predicting that her party could win a good number of the 40 seats from Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, even BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi could not resist greeting Jaya on her 66th birthday on Monday, though, of late, both have not been cosy as before.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh too conveyed his good wishes, indicating that the Congress leadership might not want the assassination case influence future political moves.
Once known to be close friends, Modi and Jaya drifted away in the last six months, thanks to their respective prime ministerial ambitions. Modi tweeted: “Birthday greetings to Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa ji. I pray for her long life & good health.”
Modi’s tweet came a few hours after Jaya announced the AIADMK candidates for all the Lok Sabha constituencies of Tamil Nadu, including Puducherry. She, however, refused to be drawn into commenting on the Supreme Court’s decision to stay her decision.
Less than 24 hours after the top court commuted the death sentence of the three convicts, Jaya had announced that all seven convicts in the case would be freed. She had asked the Centre to give its views “within three days”, after which, she said she would go ahead.
Jaya was said to be miffed with Modi for trashing the new “Third Front” at his Kolkata rally on February 5, saying it will make India “third rate” country. However, the Gujarat chief minister avoided any reference to it when he addressed a rally in Chennai on February 8.
Modi’s strategists see Jayalalithaa as a potential post- poll ally who should help the BJP in cobbling up the magic numbers for the next government.
However, Jayalalithaa has not hidden her ambition with her party giving out the slogan, “Jaya for PM”.