Riding the crest of a silent anti-incumbency wave in the April 13 Assembly elections, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam on Friday stormed back to power in Tamil Nadu, paving the way for a third substantive term as Chief Minister for its leader Jayalalithaa.

The AIADMK and its allies were set to shoot past the 200-seat mark in the 234-member Assembly, decimating the rival Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam-Congress alliance.

The AIADMK was on the way to winning 150 seats, a convincing majority of its own. With 227 seats declared by 11 p.m., the AIADMK front's tally stood at 199, while the DMK-led alliance accounted for 28 seats. The AIADMK had an individual tally of 148, and was leading in two other constituencies, while its ally, the Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK), had garnered 27 and was leading in two more constituencies. The CPI(M) and the CPI won 10 and nine seats respectively. Two smaller allies accounted for two seats each.

The DMK won 21 seats and was leading in two other constituencies, while its main ally, the Congress, recorded its worst performance in recent years, winning just five seats.

For Ms. Jayalalithaa, this marks a triumphant return to power after five years, a reversal of fortunes after her party lost every general election begun with the 39-nil defeat in 2004. The party lost the 2006 Assembly polls and was again bested by the DMK in the 2009 parliamentary elections.

“My first priority will be to restore law and order and fulfil the promises made in our election manifesto,” Ms. Jayalalithaa told journalists at her residence. She said rebuilding the State's fiscal health, which she described as being in a state of ruin, was also a priority.

The severity of the DMK's defeat can be gauged from the fact that 16 Ministers lost, while Deputy Chief Minister M.K. Stalin scraped through with a slender margin of 2,819 votes after a day-long see-saw battle against Saidai S. Duraisamy of the AIADMK in the Kolathur constituency in the city. DMK general secretary and Finance Minister K. Anbazhagan was trailing at Villivakkam, while several other senior Ministers — K. Ponmudy, K.N. Nehru, MRK Panneerselvam, Veerapandi S. Arumugam and Pongalur N. Palanisamy — besides Speaker R. Avudaiyappan and Deputy Speaker V.P. Duraisamy found themselves on the losing side.

“The people of Tamil Nadu have given me rest,” said Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi in a brief reaction. He won his Tiruvarur seat by a margin of over 50,000 votes, the 12th time he has been elected to the Assembly, but his hopes of being sworn in Chief Minister for a sixth time were dashed by the decisive verdict. He sent in his resignation to Governor Surjit Singh Barnala in the afternoon as the trends firmed up.

For the DMDK, the election represented a success of sorts as it shed its stand of contesting all elections alone and forged an alliance with the AIADMK with the sole aim of defeating the DMK. However, DMDK leader Vijayakant made it clear that his party had no plans to seek inclusion in the new regime. “We have not demanded a role in the government. Even when we formed the alliance that was our stance,” he told journalists. “This is a victory for the people and my cadre,” he said adding the ruling party's belief that “money power” could ensure its victory was proved wrong.

The Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), which chose to go with the DMK, won only two of the 30 seats it contested and was leading in one constituency. The Viduthalai Chiruthaikal Katchi (VCK) failed to open its account despite contesting 10 seats in the DMK-led front.