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Why Jayalalithaa lost

By A Ganesh Nadar
May 11, 2006 14:02 IST
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Early in her reign, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa sacked almost 200,000 state government employees at one go. They were later reinstated but their public humiliation was not forgotten.

Tamil Nadu's Anti-Conversion Act, which targeted Christian evangelists and missionaries, was later repealed. But the Christians never forgave Jayalalithaa.

Added to that was her attempt to shift a Christian college in Chennai to make space for a government office. Christian-run minority institutions in the state have continuously complained that government funds to them have been delayed or withheld.

The rich liquor lobby in the state -- which has members in all political parties -- will rejoice. The government already had control over the wholesale distribution of liquor. Jayalalithaa took over the retail business too.

Tamil Nadu poised for first coalition government

Sand contractors were in the doldrums in Jayalalithaa's rule. She took over that business too. The state Public Works Department was supposed to mine and sell river sand which is essential for the construction industry. But allegations were made that in the name of second sales the business was managed by All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam henchmen.

The Muslims always supported the DMK. Added to this was the fact that all the accused in the 1998 Coimbatore blasts -- including many innocent people -- are still in prison. The minority community thinks they will get speedier justice under the DMK.

Jayalalithaa sacked thousands of road workers for their 'sin' of joining the DMK. She brought them back a couple of months before the election. The proximity of the election to their retrenchment made their reinstatment a joke.

The chief minister's freeze on government recruitment did not go down well with millions of youngsters registered with the employment offices across the state.

Her speedy tsunami relief work earned the chief minister praise around the world and the votes of the fishermen community. But in tsunami-affected constituencies non-fisherfolk always voted against the candidate the fisherfolk supported.

Fisherfolk root for Amma

By roping in Vaiko, Jayalalithaa silenced one of her strongest critics. Vaiko's switching sides did not go down well with voters.

Filmstar Sharat Kumar changed affiliations after the election was announced. He was supposed to bring his fan clubs' votes and the Nadar community vote to the AIADMK. While the fans followed, the Nadars -- who are a key vote bank in the four southern-most districts in the state -- did not.

Filmstar-turned-politician Vijaykanth also had an impact in the keenly contested elections. He has obviously eaten into the AIADMK votes.

Images: Chasing Vijaykanth

In Tirunelveli district, a technological park was supposed to come up in Nanguneri. The area was selected and the foundation stone had been laid. The AIADMK put it on the backburner because it was started by the DMK. Jaya's party said the tech park was not economically feasible; nobody believed the AIADMK.

This has been an election of freebies in Tamil Nadu. And in the announcement of freebies too, Karunanidhi won the battle. He always made his announcements first; Jayalalithaa's were reactions.

Karunanidhi: Sachin of Tamil Nadu politics

These are some reasons for the AIADMK defeat and the toppling of the Jayalalithaa regime in Tamil Nadu.

There could be another reason too. Maybe Tamil Nadu is taking notes from neighbouring Kerala, which has a habit of changing government in every election.

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A Ganesh Nadar