In regimented rows of 10 each on a makeshift stage in Chennai’s commercial hub on Monday night stood 40+1 men and women as they listened to AIADMK general secretary and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa in rapt attention with folded hands and without a word among themselves.
These were the 40 candidates (36 men and 4 women) Jayalalithaa has fielded for the Lok Sabha election — the last one, who was made to stand a few feet away from the rest, was the candidate for an Assembly bypoll.
To make the image more surreal was the backdrop of the stage — a huge two-leaves symbol and an image of Jayalalithaa that dwarfed the candidates. It at once gave a snapshot of the strength and weakness of the AIADMK, which is hoping to win maximum seats this election to gain a leverage at the Centre, something that she lost in 1999 and her rival DMK has enjoyed almost uninterruptedly ever since.
Though there still is a day left for campaign, AIADMK chief wrapped up her campaign Monday touring South Chennai constituency.
Later, at her final public meeting at T Nagar that recorded a massive attendance, Jayalalithaa introduced all her 40 candidates, who raised their folded hands and bowed one after the other as she read out their names and the constituencies they were contesting from.
“They will be with you, they will work hard to fulfil them,” she said.
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