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Jaya minus ‘a’ for DMK

Chennai, Sept. 28: Trust Jayalalitha to campaign for the DMK.

For those who think politics is a big bore, here’s something to tickle their curiosity. Jayalalitha is not only seeking votes for M. Karunanidhi’s party in Chidambaram town, she is also its candidate for the post of municipal chairperson.

But before anyone starts thinking whether the vagaries of politics have taken a toll on the two arch-rivals of Tamil Nadu politics, take a look at the spelling.

This Jayalalitha doesn’t have the extra “a” that chief minister Jayalalithaa has.

The extra letter isn’t the only difference, though.

Voters in this temple town, 250km from Chennai, stared in surprise when a campaign van announced two days ago that Jayalalitha was seeking votes for the DMK, only to see a slim lady instead of the daunting figure of Amma.

The 25-year-old, who recently married local DMK strongman and youth wing functionary Raja, is a political greenhorn. But her husband’s clout with Karunanidhi’s son M.K. Stalin ensured she got the ticket to contest for the post reserved for women.

Jayalalitha, however, made it clear she wouldn’t be a dummy candidate unlike many who remain convenient proxies for their powerful husbands. “I am a graduate in environment science and I know that the main problem of Chidambaram town is sanitation. I am promising the voters that I will seriously address this issue,” she said.

So who named her after the AIADMK chief? Her grandfather, a staunch Amma loyalist.

But her father, a DMK supporter, refused to call her Jayalalitha. He would call her Lalitha.

But when it came to contesting elections, there was no escaping Jayalalitha as all her official records mentioned that name. “It does not matter that I am named after my party’s political rival. In fact, it increases the curiosity value since it is doubtful if AIADMK cadres would otherwise turn back and look at my campaign convoy if I am announced as, say, Selvarani,” she said.

The AIADMK camp suspects it is a ploy to confuse Muslim voters in Chidambaram who have traditionally backed the party and can swing the votes in its favour.

“The DMK cadres are asking voters to vote for Jayalalitha and not their election symbol of rising sun. To counter this, we are asking voters to look for our two leaves symbol and not go by names,” said AIADMK functionary Thoppu Sundar, whose wife Nirmala is the AIADMK’s official candidate against Jayalalitha.

The last time a Jayalalitha was pitted against Nirmala was when the AIADMK chief fought her first Assembly election from Bodinyakanaur in 1989. The AIADMK was then split into two after MGR’s death.

Jayalalithaa won that battle easily.

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