The convoy is on its way to the makeshift helipad, ahead of AIADMK leader Jayalalithaa. People start to swarm the open field on the outskirts of Gopalpatti near Dindigul. It is midday and she is expected only around 1.30 p.m. The orchestra sustains the enthusiasm of the crowd with old MGR numbers, interspersed with hits from actors Vijayakant and Vijay. A fiftyish man starts to dance to each song played over the box speakers. Soon the youth brigade joins in. Women watch the men sway to the tunes. The flags of the Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam, Communist parties and the Puthiya Tamizhagam lend colour to the scene, which resembles a village temple festival without the merry-go-round.

On the roadside, people hurriedly eat packed lunches. The shade under the only tamarind tree is being used the aged. The wait is over two hours, and the announcer keeps saying that Amma will arrive in the next three minutes. Suddenly, all eyes look up at the sky. The heads turn in the direction of a distant Andipatti. As the helicopter descends, the venue comes alive with the opening music of a famous song, Vaararu, vaararu Azhagar Vaararu from a Vijayakant-starrer, drowning the welcome slogans.

Ms. Jayalalithaa climbs down from the chopper and gets into the waiting campaign vehicle. In a few minutes, the convoy winds its way into the arena, now almost full, and people are still coming in. As the slogans die down, the lift emerges from the campaign vehicle. Flashing the victory sign, Ms. Jayalalithaa starts to address the crowd. The opening line is a ‘Save Tamil Nadu' slogan. She trains her guns at DMK president M. Karunanidhi and his family. She is careful not to indulge in carpet bombing; it is targeted shooting. She calls Mr. Karunanidhi and some of the leaders of the ruling party corrupt.

The song she used to sing as a preamble to her speeches in the late 1990s is missing. The anger is controlled. The refrain of her speech is corruption and family rule.

The vellaikaran (the white man) was sent out during the Indian freedom struggle. There is now a need for a second freedom struggle to send home a kollaikaran (the thief), she says.

After about 20 minutes, the hop-stop-and-fly campaign is ready to move. The helicopter takes off for Bodinaickanur. People again look up to the sky. It takes a long time for the crowd to disperse.

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