On Sunday evening, just after Tamil Nadu had voted, Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa hosted the families of her two special advisers, former chief secretary Sheela Balakrishnan and Jayalalithaa’s principal secretary (III) K N Venkataramanan. While Balakrishnan invited Jayalalithaa to her son’s wedding, Venkataramanan invited her to his grandchild’s first birthday. Accepting both invitations, Jayalalithaa reportedly assured them: “I will definitely come. By then the swearing-in ceremony will be done.”
The party remains confident as ever. Jayalalithaa’s Poes Garden house has been full of visitors in the last three days while calls are being made to government secretaries and police officers for inputs from the ground, sources said.
Astrologer Saravanan from Triplicane in the city has apparently made predictions Jayalalithaa and her aide Sasikala rely on. Sasikala, who reportedly interacts with Saravanan on Jayalalithaa’s behalf, is as confident as the leader, sources said.
Since the exit polls shut out the party, a few AIADMK leaders from the districts have shown signs of nerves, calling up journalists about trends. But most leaders remain confident. “Amma has done so much for the people. She restored a fully derailed law and order system in the first year of her rule,” said a minister.
Another senior leader who met Jayalalithaa said, “Even if it may be a narrow margin, we are sure of victory.” He showed a bundle of notebooks prepared for a Chennai constituency, with door-to-door details and even photographs of voters. “This was done everywhere. It shouldn’t go wrong,” he said.
The mood is upbeat in the rival DMK camp too. M K Stalin’s followers, like Jayalalithaa’s, are discussing the swearing-in ceremony already. They are debating whether it should be at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium or at Kalaivanar Arangam, an auditorium off Anna Salai.
Stalin was campaigning in Aravakurichi Wednesday, where polling was postponed by the Election Commission citing bribery of voters. Close aides of his father M Karunanidhi said he spent the day at his Gopalapuram home watching TV and receiving a few visitors.
Stalin addressed six rallies and walked the streets interacting with people, as he has done for the last nine months elsewhere.
“Thalapathi is sure of an impressive victory. Compared to the last elections, he is sure of an increase of five to 10 per cent in the support of women as he met thousands of people in the villages,” said a close aide of Stalin.
The Election Commission, meanwhile, has set up a four-member team to look into alleged malpractices in Aravakurichi and Thanjavur, the two seats where polling has been deferred to next week. An ANI report quoted the EC as saying in a statement that the team would consist of a general observer, an expenditure observer, a police observer and another officer to look into the cause of large-scale distribution of gifts and money among voters.