"It is not an easy task to rebuild an entire State"
The first and foremost priority of the new government will be to restore law and order and fulfil all the promises made in the comprehensive election manifesto within a time frame of one-and-a-half years, said Jayalalithaa, general secretary, All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK).
Soon after her alliance swept the Assembly elections, with her party getting a comfortable majority to form the next government on its own, Ms. Jayalalithaa said at a press conference in her Poes Garden residence that she had restored the fiscal health and economy of the State twice before, after she assumed power in 1991 and 2001 when faced with “a totally ruined economy” from the outgoing Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) governments.
“Today, that challenge has been magnified, multiplied a thousand times, a ten thousand times. It is a difficult task and an onerous task but we have taken it up as a challenge in the interests of the people of Tamil Nadu.”
In 2001, Ms. Jayalalithaa said the State's economy was in total ruin and Tamil Nadu had been “written off” by the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and even the Union Planning Commission. Everyone was saying the State was beyond redemption and pitied her for taking over as Chief Minister at such a juncture. “I took it up as a challenge and once again restored fiscal health and made it one of the foremost States in the country and a leader in many spheres.”
After she lost power in 2006, the DMK assumed office. “This time, the ruin that has been wrought, the havoc that has been wrought in Tamil Nadu is beyond description,” she remarked.
Elaborating on the role of the new government, Ms. Jayalalithaa said: “Our priority is to rebuild. Over the past five years, Tamil Nadu has been totally ruined. Time and again this has happened. It is not an easy task to rebuild an entire State.”
Explaining with an analogy, she said renovating a house normally involved giving it a coat of paint and carrying out a few repairs here and there. But, when the house itself had been damaged and knocked down with debris strewn all around, it was no easy task to restore it. “First, the debris will have to be cleared for rebuilding the house. It's not an easy task.”
Victory for people, democracy
Ms. Jayalalithaa began the press conference by expressing her profound gratitude to the people of Tamil Nadu for the decisive mandate given to her party. “This is a victory not for us but in reality for the people of Tamil Nadu. It is the will of the people. This is a victory for democracy.”
The people were totally disgusted with the DMK government and they were just waiting for a chance to vent their anger. “People were waiting for a chance to throw away the DMK government and bring back AIADMK government. In fact, they were waiting for the election date.” And once they got the opportunity, they showed their anger in no uncertain terms.
Answering a question on the influence of money power, she said the practice of ‘cash for votes' was defeated in this election.
EC's fantastic job
Ms. Jayalalithaa also placed on record her appreciation for the tremendous efforts taken by the Election Commission of India (EC) to conduct free and fair polls in Tamil Nadu. “I wish to convey my sincere thanks and appreciation to the EC for a fantastic job they have done.”
As the leader of alliance, comprising parties like the Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK), Left parties and a host of others, she thanked her allies for the co-operation and hard work they had put in.
“You will know in due time,” Ms. Jayalalithaa said in reply to a question on her plans for effective co-ordination with the Centre. On her role in national politics as an ally of the Left, she said: “You will see.”
The date for the swearing-in ceremony will be finalised only after Governor invites her to form the government, Ms. Jayalalithaa said.
“The final results have not come yet. At first, the party's MLAs will have to meet and select me as their leader. Then the Governor should call me to form a government. I'm a stickler for protocol and procedure.”