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Not for NDA, but J Jayalalithaa has role in Narendra Modi's gameplan

Sunday, 18 May 2014 - 7:00am IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: dna

Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa always wanted to be PM. It is an obsession that remains a desire despite the AIDMK, the party she lords over, notching an impressive 37 seats in the Lok Sabha. Where does that place Amma and the AIDMK?

The BJP, with its absolute majority, does not want AIDMK on its side. And Modi is not as helpless as Atal Bihari Vajpayee once was. Amma had famously rendered Vajpayee's NDA impotent by withdrawing support to it in 1998.

The results of 2014 have shattered not just records but also perceptions and positions. The BJP's tally of 282 (NDA: 335) has taken the wind out of all sails. Amma's 37 seats in the LS have been rendered irrelevant.

So, what does Amma have in her kitty to offer Modi? 10 Rajya Sabha seats! Can she bargain with Modi with those 10 chips? Don't get thrown away when Modi says "I want to carry every party along with me".

"This is all rhetoric," says Zoya Hasan, JNU professor and political analyst. "Modi is perceived as a divisive politician and when he says he wants to carry along every party with him, he may want to remove that perception. Modi does not need Jayalalithaa's support. He has a majority, except may be her support in the Rajya Sabha."

Modi is aiming for consensus. He is not promising berths in his cabinet. Or even state-specific special packages.

Talking about herself in 1985, Jayalalithaa had said, "No one can get anything out of me or subdue me by threats, harsh treatment; it only makes me more stubborn, inflexible, unbending, determined. The only way anyone can get me to cooperate is to be nice to me, pamper me, cajole me, talk to me kindly, softly."

Modi probably knew that. A couple of years after he made his pitch for PM and soon after he won his fourth term as CM of Gujarat, Narendra Modi had done some of that "pampering", talking "softly" with her and "kindly" giving her the impression that she was crucial to shaping the future of India, and the NDA.

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