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Just arrived: Amma-for-PM Express

Chennai, Dec. 19: Chennai Express has had its run; now the wait seems to be for Amma’s “Red Fort Express”, from Chennai to New Delhi.

The AIADMK today projected Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa as a prime ministerial candidate — presumably of a non-Congress, non-BJP front — saying she was best qualified for the job.

Jayalalithaa, however, told reporters she was yet to decide whether to project herself as a contender for Prime Minister although it was the wish of her party cadres.

But, according to party sources, she dropped enough hints today at a meeting of the AIADMK’s general council, telling it that the party would emerge as a force that will lead the country after next year’s general election.

“The AIADMK will become the Red Fort Express,” she purportedly said, prompting thunderous applause.

In a resolution adopted at the general council, the party described Jayalalithaa as “the only national leader endowed with a national outlook, patriotism, long political experience and administrative skills who can carry all sections of society like a mother”.

“She alone can provide the country a government that can make India proud and a superpower,” it added.

“To ensure this, the AIADMK has resolved to win all the 40 seats from Tamil Nadu and Puducherry so that Jayalalithaa can lead the country.”

Jayalalithaa, who had congratulated Narendra Modi when he was made the BJP’s campaign committee chairman, has been observing a studied silence ever since he was declared the prime ministerial candidate.

Apparently, Modi’s candidature clashes with her own purported plans to take a shot at the hot seat at the head of a third front government.

Such a scenario can be possible only if the AIADMK wins at least 35 seats, more than any of the other non-Congress, non-BJP parties which, in turn, must rustle up enough seats so the front can make a pitch for power.

If the third front plan fails, Jayalalithaa will have to give up her prime ministerial dreams and instead support a BJP-led government provided that party gets close to the majority mark.

She might find it difficult to support a Congress government after having declared today that “if the nation has to be saved and if Tamil Nadu has to progress, the present Congress-led government has to be thrown out”.

She alleged the UPA government had not only discriminated against Tamil Nadu and been vindictive against her government, it had also left the nation rudderless through its failure of leadership.

Aware of Jayalalithaa’s ambitions, the state BJP recently declared that it was not planning an alliance with the AIADMK since “there cannot be two swords in one scabbard”.

The AIADMK’s ambition to target all 40 Lok Sabha seats could trouble the two Left parties, which now support Jayalalithaa and had hoped to contest next year’s general election as her allies.

The two parties recently spurned the suggestion that the DMK was wooing them after having decided not to revive ties with the Congress or the BJP. If Jayalalithaa fields candidates in all the 40 seats, the Left will have no choice but to turn towards the DMK.

The decisions by the DMK and the AIADMK to shun both the Congress and the BJP suggest that Tamil Nadu might witness a four-way contest with each of these four parties forming their own fronts — a first in the state.