Tamil Nadu chief minister and permanent general secretary of AIADMK J Jayalalithaa is being seen as one of the possible 'alternative' prime ministerial candidates if the BJP fails to cross the 180 mark and it is not able to attract allies. Alternately, the southern political queen is also seen as a kingmaker or queen-maker in terms of who would be the prime minister.
Many of her admirers in Tamil Nadu have no doubt that she will make a better prime minister than anyone else in the country. She has the charisma, an image that commands respect, administrative ability, political shrewdness and an impeccable command over the English language.
There is a clear possibility that in case BJP PM candidate Narendra Modi fails to make the mark, he may prefer to back Jayalalithaa more than any one else. The two share a certain political chemistry. Modi was in Chennai for her swearing-in ceremony, and Jayalalithaa was in Gandhinagar for Modi's swearing in.
What goes against Jayalalithaa is the ongoing case against her and Sasikala, her confidante and aide, with regard to delay in the filing of tax returns which is now being heard in a Bengaluru court.
Jayalalithaa would also be a crucial factor for BJP and Modi in the formation of the government. More than BSP's Mayawati and TMC's Mamata Banerjee, it is Jayalalithaa who shares commonality of views on many of the national issues, including a "musclar foreign policy". What gives Jayalalithaa political clout is the fact that her party is expected to win 30 of the 40 Lok Sabha seats in Tamil Nadu (39) and Puducherry (1).
Said one of the AIADMK MPs speaking on condition of anonymity, "We are aiming to win all the 40 seats — 39 in Tamil Nadu and 1 in Puducherry — and we will win at least 35." There is another party leader who said that the party will win more than 30.
Ponnusamy Venugopal, MP from Thiruvallur, cited the popular programmes of the leader of the party: "Madam (Jayalalithaa) has allotted Rs17,000 crore for education, 20 kg free rice for people in the villages and a single window system where officials from all departments will be available in the panchayat office to meet the people and respond to their needs." It is this people-responsiveness that ensures the party's victory in the Lok Sabha polls.
Venugopal was very clear that in these elections, it is not the Congress or the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), that will be the major players but it is the regional parties that will have an upper hand and an important to play after the elections.
An elderly party functionary was quite forthright about who will what AIADMK will do in the post-poll phase in May. "Madam will decide on what the party will do in the state and in the country keeping in mind the national interest," he said.
The elderly gentleman had, however, conceded that the alliance that the BJP had forged with Vijaykanth's DMDK, Vaiko's MDMK and the PMK. He said the alliance with muster a respectable vote percentage but it will translate into seats. He said that Vijaykanth's party commanded six to eight per cent of the vote and Vaiko's party had two percent. Combined with the two per cent that BJP commanded in the state, it will add up to less than 20% of the total vote share in the state.