In this southern stage it has come down to Modi versus the Lady versus Daddy. Sample these statements:
“The Modi wave will sweep away the AIADMK and the DMK,” says MDMK leader Vaiko.
“Tamil Nadu’s lady is better than Gujarat’s Modi in good governance.” That was chief minister and AIADMK boss Jayalalithaa.
“Tamil Nadu was developed by neither Modi nor this lady, but by my Daddy,” DMK boss M. Karunanidhi’s son and heir apparent M.K. Stalin says.
The three observations sum up the triangular contest that has plunged Tamil Nadu into its most unpredictable election in recent times.
Jayalalithaa, who launched her campaign with the “all 40 for AIADMK” slogan, has been forced into a fresh appraisal by a resurgent DMK and a late surge by the BJP-led front.
So much so that Jayalalithaa, who had targeted only the Congress and the DMK during the major part of her speeches, had to take note of the BJP and finally Narendra Modi in the last leg of her campaign.
“Unless she was nervous about the Modi factor, why should she bring up the BJP and a comparison of her government with Modi’s Gujarat,” said BJP leader L. Ganesan.
Thuglak editor Cho Ramaswamy, however, said it was Jayalalithaa’s way of protecting her votes since a split could benefit the DMK.
The DMK also got its act together after initially stumbling over the revolt of the other scion, M.K. Alagiri. The expulsion of the Madurai strongman rallied the cadres behind Stalin who carried out the most extensive campaign by any Tamil leader in recent times.
Party patriarch Karunanidhi, pushing 90, addressed nearly a dozen meetings and added his own emotional flavour by telling the cadres that this could be his last election. Karunanidhi also wooed the minorities to keep them from drifting towards the Congress.
The BJP-led six-party front was expected to implode over the inherent contradictions between two major partners — the PMK and the DMDK. But PMK leader Anbumani Ramadoss and the DMDK’s Vijayakanth buried their differences.
Modi’s two-day, six-stop campaign and his well-publicised meetings with film heroes Rajinikanth and Vijay provided further fillip to the front.