General Electioins 2019 | Tamil Nadu

Campaigning without a charismatic leader

In Jaya’s absence, the polls will be a test of EPS-OPS leadership

In the absence of its iconic leader Jayalalithaa who, like her mentor and party founder M.G. Ramachandran, was an instant crowd-puller, the ruling AIADMK is preparing to launch its campaign for the Lok Sabha election on Friday.

For a party spearheaded by towering personalities since its inception in 1972, the upcoming election will test the evolving dual leadership of its coordinator O. Panneerselvam and co-coordinator Edappadi K. Palaniswami.

Senior party functionaries acknowledged that the absence of Jayalalithaa presented a challenge, adding, “We have to manage with our plus points.”

In the rival DMK, though its leader M.K. Stalin is no match for his late father M. Karunanidhi in terms of attracting a crowd, he has, over the years, evolved as the party’s face.

Political analyst P. Ramajayam is of the view that the coming election will be a contest among politicians, sans the glamour.

AIADMK organising secretary S. Gokula Indira agreed that no one could replace Jayalalithaa’s ‘people-connect’, but added that her party was putting the best foot forward. “She pulled crowds not only because she was an actor, but also because she was an efficient administrator. Our Chief Minister too has established himself as an efficient CM over the past two years,” claimed the former Minister.

Connect with the masses

The year-long MGR centenary celebrations could be considered a dry run of the election campaign, she said. “Our leaders made specific points, depending on the place where the meeting was held, and those meetings had good crowd,” she contended.

Second-line leaders believe that over the next two elections, one of the two leaders would emerge as the face of the party. “Edappadi has emerged as a great leader in the past two years. Like the way Amma connected with the masses with brief stories in her speeches, our CM too connects with people through stories,” AIADMK literary wing secretary B. Valarmathi said.

Two campaign vehicles were being prepared for the two leaders – one of them will start from Chennai and campaign his way to Kanniyakumari, while the other will take the opposite route.

AIADMK MGR Mandram joint secretary B.V. Ramana said that like Jayalalithaa, who gained in stature over 12 elections since 1989, “leaders always evolve”. Mr. Ramajayam had a different take. “The crowd came for money, be it Jayalalithaa or anyone else. If money is distributed this time too, obviously the same crowd will come, whether the speech is captivating or otherwise,” he quipped.

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Printable version | May 28, 2020 4:51:58 AM |

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