Jaya To Play Modi For Leader Of The Opposition In Lok Sabha

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa is a bigger winner than BJP’s Narendra Modi in the Lok Sabha elections.
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* New Delhi - Delhi - India


Fri May 16, 2014

CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa is a bigger winner than BJP’s Narendra Modi in the Lok Sabha elections. With the AIADMK of ‘The Lady’ bagging 38 out of the 39 seats, her score is over 90 per cent. In contrast, Modi, even after taking the BJP comfortably ahead of the 272-mark, has scored only a little more 60 per cent.

In other words, the bigger winner with the smaller number (38) of seats has been completely put in the shade by the relatively smaller winner with the much bigger (285-plus) number of seats. The AIADMK has emerged as the third largest party, just ahead of Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress.

Yet the BJP and Narendra Modi do not need the big block of AIADMK MPs in the Lok Sabha to get on with their business in Parliament and government. However, the BJP, which is in a minority in the Rajya Sabha, may have use for Amma’s nine (soon to become 10) members in the Upper House.

After the AIADMK’s unprecedented sweep of Tamil Nadu’s Lok Sabha seats, Jayalalithaa said today: "I wish the new Prime Minister well" and pointed out that her own party’s performance – without an electoral ally — is "historic, unparalleled in history". She expressed the hope that the new government would acwej be favourable to Tamil Nadu.

With the National Democratic Alliance crossing the 300-seat mark in the Lok Sabha, the BJP does not need to collaborate with Jayalalithaa, although Modi has often referred to his friendship with the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, and each attended the swearing in of the other. In this Lok Sabha election campaign, Modi and Jayalalithaa traded barbs although not in a way that they cannot join hands after the polls. While Modi said that the AIADMK and DMK were obsessed with attacking each other, Jayalalithaa sought to impress with facts and figures that the “Tamil Nadu” model was superior to the “Gujarat Model”. Ever since Modi targeted the AIADMK, at every meeting Jayalalithaa asked her audience whether they would vote “For Modi or Intha (this Lady”. Invariably, the response was a deafening “Intha Lady”, which has been borne out by the results.

Although, Modi and some BJP leaders have said that they would welcome any party that  seeks an association with them, the BJP would be extremely wary of The Lady who had pulled the rug from under the first NDA coalition after 13 months. The party is unlikely to come to any arrangement with the AIADMK whereby Jayalalithaa could gain any sort of leverage to raise demands or paint the BJP into a corner. Such exclusion would be based on past experience.

With its low tally depriving the Congress of a basis for claiming the post of Leader of the Opposition, the AIADMK is said to be angling for this space. However, its own numbers being inadequate to press any claim for this position, it is exploring the chances of joining hands with the Trinamool Congress, among others, to steal a march over the Congress in its quest to emerge as Leader of the Opposition.

The AIADMK can achieve this only with the prompting and support of the BJP. For that to happen, Jayalalithaa would have to convince Modi that she can be relied upon as a fellow traveller because the Leader of the Opposition enjoys cabinet rank and has a say in several important, including constitutional, appointments.

Unless something along these lines is negotiated, for all the awesome sweep of her victory in Tamil Nadu, the overall election outcome may have crushed Jayalalithaa’s fond dreams of a “role at the Centre”.

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