Chennai: Breaking a three decades long jinx in Tamil Nadu assembly elections, Jayalalithaa today guided her party to retain power as it won 134 seats in a showdown with arch rival DMK which though put up a spirited fight to emerge a strong opposition. AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa led her party to a ‘resounding’ victory in a multi-cornered contest that saw DMK-led alliance winnning 98 constituencies out of the 232 seats that went to elections on May 16.
Belying exit and pre-poll surveys, she became the first chief minister to bag a successive term in office since 1989, albeit with a reduced majority compared to 150 seats the AIADMK had won in 2011. The third front, which had created high expectations in view of six parties coming together and taking on the Dravidian majors, was rejected in toto by the voters.
Pataali Makkal Katchi (PMK) and BJP also drew a blank as the fight turned out to be between AIADMK and DMK, which on its own secured 89 seats, also a first for any opposition. DMK’s allies Congress won eight seats while IUML one.
AIADMK garnered 40.8 per cent of the vote while the DMK secured 31.6 and its allies Congress and IUML 6.4 per cent and 0.7 per cent.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitely and Odhisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik were among the leaders who greeted Jayalalithaa. Thanking voters for giving her party a successive mandate, Jayalalithaa vowed to repay the ‘debt’ through performance and strive to implement all promises made in her poll manifesto.
In a highly polarised election, AIADMK and DMK shared the honours between them, effectively spoiling the aspirations of DMDK-PWF-TMC combine, BJP and PMK to emerge as alternatives to the two Dravidian giants. Jayalalithaa, battling 10 opposition parties who were determined to scuttle her prospects, romped home with a comfortable majority in the 234-member assembly.
Polling in two constituencies has been deferred by the Election Commission to May 23 in view malpractices. The 68 year-old Jayalalithaa, who won from city’s R K Nagar constituency, recalled that her mentor M G Ramachandran had achieved such a feat in 1984 when he won elections for a consecutive time.