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Winds of change

She is a one man army who commands massive following and the intense loyalty of millions. Not in the pink of health, she still exerted the most to rally people behind her. In a punishing schedule she campaigned for all her candidates. The strategist supreme, she kept plans close to her heart. The party manifesto released just 10 days before the elections, with such expanse, left the other parties dumbfounded. In the end Jayalalithaa set more records. She mocked at anti-incumbency that was well set for 32 years and exposed the hollowness of the claims of so many king aspirants.

Winds of change

In the end J Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK won 134 seats, giving her party a comfortable majority in the Assembly.

Tamil Nadu was saved the blushes of being led by a nonagenarian.  The make over of Stalin from a dhoti-clad heir apparent to the urbane trouser worn, didn’t cut ice with people to the extent it was hoped. However, the DMK, while it was defeated, was for sure not disgraced.

The Congress, the party on whom the sun has begun to set into the Arabian Sea, tugged to the apron strings of the DMK and picked eight seats, for whatever it was worth. The BJP failed to open its account.

In essence, Tamil Nadu stuck to its date with freebies.  And for the first time in 30 years, a ruling party retained power.  

In neighboring tiny Puducherry the Congress-DMK combine went past the majority mark by a whisker.

They said many things about her. A maverick who practices street-type politics and has no sense of democratic governance. The prime minister even took a dig at her referring to both Narada the sting and the Sarada the scam that had once threatened to consume her.

In the end Mamata Banerjee’s TMC won a stunning 211, well above what she had got in 2011. The Congress-Left combine was left way behind with 76.

West Bengal was saved the blushes of a Laal Salaam. Mamata needed no image makeover to win. She was the same lady who you had met five years ago.  She was still the one who did not know how to drape a sari, wore Hawaii slippers and rode a Santro car.

The Congress forged an alliance with the Left Front, a shady marriage of convenience even by the standards of strange bed-fellowship that prevail in modern day politics.

The BJP picked three seats.

In essence, West Bengal stuck to its dalliance with Mamata, her eccentricities not-withstanding.

The fight was crass. It was personal. One man was 92 years old and the other was 72. The state that has generally had a coalition government long before that word became fashionable, has always had a march past: left, right, left, right, left. The prime minister even mocked at the state calling it ‘Somalia.’  Of-course he was slicing statistics. And the Malayalee was not amused. He shrieked: Po, Mone Modi (Modi, go back!).

In the end, the revolving door continued to revolve and the LDF marched in. And in a strange twist, the party bosses decided that it would a septuagenarian who would lead them and not the man who they had projected as chief minister.

On its part, the BJP won a solitary seat.

It was equally personal.  One man called the other, “he is acting as a superman,” and the other called the first, “he is old enough to be my father.”

In the end the BJP coalition won a cool 86 seats in the 126-member Assam Assembly, and a former AGP member who had moved over to the lotus party in 2011, Sarbananda Sonowal, helped the sweep. The three-term chief minister, Tarun Gogoi, pushing 82, should have gracefully walked into the sunset, but chose not to do and paid the price for it.

In the end, the BJP stormed the northeast for the first time, and has formed a government in Assam.

Stitching an alliance with locals like the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), the Bodo People’s Front (BPF) and the Rabhas and the Tiwa community, helped win over the voter.

They were, in one sense, also aided by the departure of the one time friend of Gogoi, Himanta Sarma to BJP.  But, importantly, it was the tiredness with the Congress and the need for a breathe of fresh air that worked.

He further says that the party after assuming power will concentrate on sealing India-Bangladesh border to stop illegal immigrants coming inside the state.


In Tamil Nadu there are issues galore. The state’s finances are not so healthy.  There is a need to attract investment deep down south. A culture of ‘social welfare’ has swept through the state that may not easy to fund.

The judgment on Jayalalithaa’s disproportionate asset case is hanging fire with the Supreme Court and may be delivered any time.

The AIADMK is a one-leader party and lacks a strong second line.

In a companion piece we write about the tasks before the new government which, if taken up in the right spirit, will help the state achieve Vision 2023. 


In Assam the new chief minister says he will seal the India-Bangladesh border to stop illegal immigrants coming inside the state. That may be an issue but there are far greater issues facing the northeast, in particular the feeing of alienation. Assam is the largest of the 7 NE sisters. How it responds to growth and change will determine large part in NE India’s growth. There is both challenge and opportunity.


In West Bengal, beyond saying that her rule saw the most peaceful period in the state’s history, Mamata is not talking much about the future. Of course she has indicated that there would be some announcements in the future about the national scenario, an apparent reference to the GST bill.

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