Jayalalithaa juggernaut rolls down opposition

Chennai (IANS): AIADMK general secretary and Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa returned to the Tamil Nadu assembly on Tuesday crushing the opposition by a by a record victory margin from the Radkhakrishnan Nagar constituency here.

Jayalalithaa polled 160,432 votes while her nearest rival, Communist Party of India’s (CPI) C. Mahendran, got just 9,710 votes — a victory margin of a whopping 150,722 votes.

The total electorate in the constituency was around 245,000, and the chief minister bagged 65 percent of all votes polled.

Going by the votes polled by Jayalalithaa, it is clear the vote banks of the opposition parties which boycotted the polls fell into her kitty and did not go to the CPI.

Mahendran was followed by independent candidate and social activist K.R. Ramaswamy, popularly known as “Traffic Ramaswamy” (4,590 votes) while 2,376 people opted for `None of the Above’ category.

While there were 28 candidates in the fray, only CPI’s Mahendran was viewed as a serious opponent for Jayalalithaa.

As noisy celebrations erupted at the AIADMK headquarters and outside Jayalalithaa’s residence, Tamil Nadu Governor K. Rosaiah congratulated her over her landslide win.

Central Minister of State for Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Pon Radhakrishnan of the Bharatiya Janata Party conveyed his “heartfelt greetings” to Jayalalithaa on her mega victory.

AIADMK activists and leaders generously distributed sweets to all and sundry and burst crackers to celebrate.

An elated Jayalalithaa thanked voters and AIADMK supporters for her victory and said the result was a forerunner for the 2016 assembly election.

This is the seventh by-election victory for the AIADMK since it came to power in 2011. The party has won all the by-elections held since 2011.

In 2006, AIADMK’s P.K. Sekarbabu polled 84,462 votes in Radhakrishnan Nagar. In 2011, P. Vetrivel of AIADMK got 83,777 votes and defeated Sekarbabu, who by then was in the DMK. Vetrivel’s victory margin was over 31,000 votes.

Major opposition parties like the DMK, the PMK, the DMDK, the Congress, the BJP and the MDMK stayed away from the contest on different pretexts.

The CPI and the CPI-M fielded Mahendran as their joint candidate.

The Radhakrishnan Nagar seat fell vacant after AIADMK’s Vetrivel resigned from the house to facilitate Jayalalithaa’s re-election to the assembly.

Jayalalithaa, elected from Srirangam in 2011, lost that seat and the chief minister’s post after a trial court in Bengaluru convicted her in the disproportionate assets case.

The Karnataka High Court upheld her appeal and acquitted her of all charges. Jayalalithaa was again sworn in as chief minister, but she has to get elected to the assembly within six months.

The Karnataka government has gone on appeal against the high court order in the Supreme Court.