Jaya’s absence could mean Advantage BJP in Tamil Nadu

With AIADMK supremo unable to get back to active electoral politics unless a higher court clears her, and the DMK in no shape to revive itself, political observers say BJP might emerge as an alternative in next assembly elections

shivani

Shivani Chaturvedi | October 1, 2014 | Chennai


Narendra Modi and J Jayalalithaa: Can BJP use space vacated by the former Tamil Nadu CM`s absence to its advantage in the southern state?
PTI file photo

Electoral battles in Tamil Nadu have mostly thrown up decisive results. Considering the trend since 1967, it has been either of the two Dravida parties – the DMK or the AIADMK – coming to power.

But with former chief minister and AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa out of electoral politics and looking at the possibility of a four-year jail term (the Karnataka HC on October 1 postponed the bail hearing till October 7; read our article here), there can be a departure from this trend in the next assembly elections scheduled for 2016, say political observers in Chennai.

“People vote for AIADMK or DMK since they do not have an alternative (with the Congress a spent force in the state). But there is now the scope for BJP to make an impact in Tamil Nadu,” said a city-based analyst. “The BJP by itself, or in coalition with other smaller parties, can emerge as an alternative force. Since Jayalalithaa has been disqualified as an MLA and she might not be cleared of all the charges before the elections, the saffron party may get more support and spread its wings here.”

Emphasising that the BJP wants to present itself as “an alternative party” in a state where its influence has been minimal till date, senior BJP leader from Tamil Nadu L Ganesan told Governance Now: “We are working to grow BJP in the state. But at this juncture, planning for growth would leave a bad taste (in people’s mouth) and we are not people who fish in troubled waters.”

He also expressed his sympathy towards AIADMK workers. 

ALSO READ: With Jaya in jail, babus fear pending files will drown TN administration

But those watching the political scene say if Jayalalithaa gets bail she can manage the entire administration from her Poes Garden residence in Chennai, or from her home in Nilgiri mountains, or the palatial bungalow at OMR (Old Mahabalipuram Road).

Earlier, in 2001, when Jayalalithaa was unseated for a few weeks in another criminal case and O Panneerselvam had taken charge as chief minister till her return to office, she worked from her Poes Garden residence. So what makes things different this time? Political observers say all this will go on till 2016 this time, which is a long period. And so long as the courts do not stay the conviction itself, Jayalalithaa will be disqualified from holding any elected office for a period of at least 10 years – for the course of her four-year prison term and an additional period of six years.

The question here is when people know she won’t return to active politics for such a long period, will people vote for Panneerselvam, the proxy chief minister, or any other face from AIADMK? The chances of DMK returning to power are also unlikely and that was proven during the Lok Sabha elections too, said another political observer.

A Bangalore court on Saturday handed Jayalalithaa a four-year jail term and Rs 100 crore penalty for amassing assets disproportionate to her known sources of income. The case was filed by Subramanian Swamy, now with the BJP, in 1997 regarding accumulation of assets worth Rs 66 crore during her first tenure as Tamil Nadu chief minister from 1991 to 1996 (read: Tamil Nadu tense as Jayalalithaa gets 4-yr jail, Rs 100-cr penalty in DA case)

 

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