This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Chandra Shekar. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Amma Is Here To Stay: What Makes People Vote Her Back To Power Every Time

More from Chandra Shekar

By Chandra Shekhar:

J Jayalalithaa, one of the most important politicians in our country, has been convicted in a corruption case while serving as the chief minister of Tamil Nadu. She was awarded an imprisonment of four years in addition to 100 crore rupees fine. This has made her the first Chief Minister in India to have been disqualified following a court’s verdict. She cannot contest elections for the next ten years unless a higher court acquits her. Now, what next for Amma? Is her political career over?

jayalalitha1

Political analysts and the opposition parties have written her off from politics various times and every time she came back, only strongly.

In 1989, following the party founder and the then chief minister M G Ramachandran’s death, the party split into two: one under MGR’s wife Janaki Ramachandran and the other under Jayalalithaa. Both the factions claimed that it was the official ADMK, but election commission refused to recognize either. MGR’s election symbol ‘two leaves’ was denied for both parties and ADMK under Jayalalithaa had to fight the election with the symbol ‘cock’. That was the time when political pundits wrote her off for the first time.

Even though both factions lost, Jaya’s party emerged as the second largest party and she became the first woman leader of opposition in Tami Nadu legislative assembly. She merged the two factions of the party and became the first person to restore the lost election symbol of ‘two leaves’ successfully, which even the mighty Indira Gandhi couldn’t accomplish. She allied with Congress party and became the chief minister after the 1991 elections. Political analysts shrugged it off saying that it was only because of sympathy wave following Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination.

Her stint as the Chief Minister from 1991 to 1996 was marked by lavish lifestyle, poor governance, reputation as an autocrat, corruption allegations and to top it all, Jaya’s foster son’s extravagant marriage that invited heavy criticism from the public. In 1996 election, ADMK was routed to its worst possible defeat by winning only 4 seats. It was that time when political analysts wrote her political career off, again.

What followed in 1998 general elections was one of the unpredictable comebacks ever in Tamil Nadu politics. Jaya swept the polls in alliance with BJP and participated in the central government. Within a period of two years the entire electoral arithmetic changed. The alliance won 30 out of 39 seats.

In 2001 assembly election, Jaya’s nomination to contest was rejected since she was then convicted for a criminal offense in TANSI case. The people of Tamil Nadu gave a clear mandate to ADMK and its alliance parties even though she remained a convict under the law. She became the Chief Minister, which was legally voided by the Supreme Court. She fought the TANSI case in High Court, got acquitted and became the Chief Minister again.

Her 2001 to 2006 stint was clean and did not receive any major corruption allegations. However following various ‘un-populist’ measures (most of which were economically correct but politically wrong), her party was again routed in 2004 general elections where it drew a blank. She lost assembly elections in 2006 and the general elections in 2009, losing elections three times successively. And guess what, it was the time for her critics to announce her dusk. They had to wait till 2011 to be proved wrong, again.

Her reign from 2011 till now was marked with both populism and good governance. Though she tried to boost her image with a series of populist initiatives like ‘Amma Canteen’ (which provides cheap subsidized food),  ‘Amma Water’, free laptops for students, free mixer, grinder and table fans to poor etc., there are also serious and well planned initiatives like Vision 2023 plan, a strategic plan for infrastructure in the state, restoration of electricity etc. It looked as if she tried to maintain a balance between good governance and popular governance.

In 2014 general elections, ADMK contested alone, won 37 out of 39 seats and became the third largest party in India. It was a feat, even the great MGR (arguably the most popular politician in the state) was unable to achieve. (It is to be noted that the two seats that ADMK lost were special cases; Kanyakumari was religiously polarized between Hindus and Christians and led to the BJP’s win, while Dharmapuri constituency was dominated by a single caste and elected a caste based party, namely the PMK).

As we look back, her political career was considered over at least four times. Time and again, she has proved that it is far from over. The broader inspection should be about what her magic is and what makes people to vote her back to power?

When you go through the social media websites, the general pulse of the public is definitely not anti-Jaya. Actually it is far from it. Yes there are these cries like democracy has won, faith in judiciary restored and this will lead to fear for corruption in the future etc., a sizable majority is somewhat sympathetic to the lady. Why?

The main opposition party DMK is at its worst state of affairs. This conviction for Jaya has come at a time when her popularity is at its peak. People voted for her because they couldn’t stand DMK’s corrupt and family based regime. DMK’s unpopularity went to an all-time low following the 2G spectrum scam. For people who’ve seen scams running to lakhs of crores, it is no wonder that a ‘mere’ 66 crore scam is seen as something ‘not as bad as DMK’. To add to that, the way she handled the electricity crisis in the state, various populist measures etc. has been well received by the people.

Another reason that parties or leaders get elected back despite setbacks, is because of one major factor: TINA (There Is No Alternative). Indira Gandhi became PM again despite being routed following emergency. In many states, the same government is elected back only because there is no capable opposition. The same applies here too.

Voters choose not the best government but only a better government. They don’t choose between good and bad but between better and worst. In addition to that, even though this is silly, people think that since Jaya had been voted out of power in 1996 for the same allegations, it suffices the ‘punishment’.

When one analyzes with equipoise, Jaya’s three different stints as Chief Minister, one can clearly see the marked differences from her first stint to her latest. Electoral losses and decimation at various points of time has made her more mature and better. What has transpired now can be only termed unfortunate and a right legal decision at the politically wrong time.

This is not a post to justify what Jaya has done. In the eyes of law, she currently stands as a criminal. Given the political vacuum in the opposition camp, and DMK’s unprecedented low image, this is just an attempt to highlight that her political career is far from over.

You must be to comment.
  1. Babar

    Why is it ‘woman leader’ and not ‘female leader’? Is it because it is degrading or is it misogyny to use the world ‘female’? So now we have women authors, women politicians, women workers, etc, which sounds more daft than most people think. How does man blogger, man singer, man scientist sound? When there is nothing wrong with using the word ‘male’, why do we have to substitute the world ‘female’ with ‘woman’? What else are we going to change to please feminists? Just to let you know, women don’t like the word ‘woman’ either, just because it contains the world ‘man’ in it, since they are a bunch of man-haters. Feminists already use ‘wimmin’ and one esteemed blogger on YKA uses ‘womyn‘ in her articles.

    1. Dhanda

      More than hundreds of male culprits including manmohan like, while loiter around the country, enjoying honey and moons, in this hour arresting a female, is it not a shameful to proclaim a democracy as it has been established by this verdict / judgment. What has been this same democracy doing with the list of persons, when Swiss bank account holders name, was available?

  2. Archana Vijay

    My views on the same. Posted yesterday. http://archuzarchive.com/jayalalitha-jail-lalitha/

  3. Sathish K S

    Well Said Chandra !!! Good analysis and well done post which many should know

  4. Dhanda

    More than hundreds of male culprits including manmohan like, while loiter around the country, enjoying honey and moons, in this hour arresting a female, is it not a shameful to proclaim a democracy as it has been established by this verdict / judgment. What has been this same democracy doing with the list of persons, when Swiss bank account holders name, was available?

  5. Kanupriya

    That is just sad and unfortunate that people always have to choose bad among the worse. Lack of opposition will always give a chance to the person in power to exploit people.

  6. Vignesh

    Nice article. Kudos 🙂

More from Chandra Shekar

Similar Posts

By IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute

By Mounika Vurity

By Akshay Sonawane

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below