To be honest, it is not clear at all. She is certainly not running amok despite those defamation cases. Some silly, mean harassment, yes, but not exactly any major persecution. Whoever arrested so far are all characters who seem to deserve it richly. So no question of witch-hunt , though she might be targeting selectively.
But discontent seems to be widespread. Many talk of corruption – at all levels. “That will be enough to put off people,” claim some. Is that the case?
Not clear as yet. Surely she is a past master in the art of committing hara-kiri, though she is resuscitated to life every time by her adversaries. So then the question is whether she has already dissipated all the goodwill she had earned thanks to the excesses of the MK clan.
The Sasikala-drama might stand her in good stead for a while, no doubt. One source claims the confidante has indeed been relegated to the role of a major domo, just house-keeping and attending to JJ’s needs, nothing more. Many of her clan including the redoubtable Ravanan and Diwakaran are still fretting on the sidelines. Looks like none of them will be rehabilitated in the foreseeable future. Of course their seeming banishment it doesn’t necessarily mean less corruption. No way. But it is some image makeover JJ attempted apart from settling some dispute over her ill-gotten wealth. That purpose could be said to have been achieved in some measure.
One sensible thing JJ chose to do was not replace the clan by anyone close to her known advisor Cho, as was rumoured in the beginning. Had she done so MK and others would have tried to make it a brahimin vs thevar tussle in which the Brahmins have triumphed. Incidentally let me add that Cho himself didn’t push for any such goes to show he has less axe to grind than many of us suspect, however much reactionary he might be.
She has also been able to rein in her own vindictive streak. Indeed compared to Mamata’s depredations, Jayalalithaa almost seems to be an angel!
The Samacheer and Anna library issues showed her in very poor light, no doubt. Many are indeed amused over trying to negating anything the previous regime attempted, but no great outrage except in the case of the library conversion. The courts were upset over Samacheer and hence the victory for egalitarianism. But she could be permitted to go ahead with her new secretariat conversion plan.
It must also be remembered that in the case of Makkal Nalap Paniyalarkal, JJ almost got away with murder. Thousands sacked for no reason except that they were the recruits of the DMK government. The injunction on the order was not honoured, despite disapproval by the Supreme Court itself.
But at the end, the sacked workers were content to accept whatever was offered and return home. The court did not seek to punish the government for contempt. If any issue should have caught fire, it was this, but didn’t. The mass sacking of state government employees in her previous stint caused such furore, perhaps was a key factor in her debacle in 2004 Lok Sabha polls. She had to beat a hasty retreat and reinstate them all. But such pressure was not piled on her this time, may be because the numbers were smaller and the regular employees didn’t bother to go to their rescue. It is not snowballing either.
On Koodankulam, she ran with the hare and hunted with the hounds, and ultimately betrayed her true colours as an agent of the ruling classes. But this might not have any great impact on the voters at large in as much as they don’t seem to have any strong opinion on the issue one way or another. Only those activists who had placed too much faith in her initial protestations are now seen to be too naïve in the task they had taken upon themselves.
What with the power situation precarious, no one is going to have any great sympathy for the Koodankulam movement.
On the power front too she is not coming off badly. As it happens in her 2001-06 administration she did precious little to generate more power than the state was generating at the time, whereas it was the subsequent DMK that did try to start as many new power plants as possible. Forget the environmental costs of the thermal stations and the continuing glitches over land acquisition, at the very minimum they got going somewhere. At least a few of its projects could come to fruition in the coming years, easing the situation considerably and perhaps enabling her to claim the credit.
She has also been acting true to her reputation as a firm administrator by ordering the arrest of the likes of Zion School Vijayan or Jeppiyar. Well, she seems to be treating Padma Seshadri with kid gloves, it has certainly raised hackles all round, but might be forgotten in due course.
So then if there are any possible weak spots at the moment and which could work against her, say in the next Lok Sabha elections, it would be nothing other than the all pervasive corruption, AIADMK functionaries reveling in it, not to mention mega deals which should benefit the decision-makers most.
JJ might have made some noise about councilor-level corruption, but credible sources assert that things haven’t changed much.
Though some district collectors have been able to stand up to the pressure from local AIADMK bigwigs on issues like appointment of noon meal organizers, elsewhere ruling party leaders are lording it over all. Tenders for public works continue to be a milch cow. There were even reports that some functionaries had installed currency-counting machines.
Apart from such stinking corruption, we are yet to hear of any excesses by the AIADMK .
On the other hand Karunanidhi has still to find a way out of the spectrum and family mess, the Congress’s stocks are at an all-time low, while Vijaykanth already looks like a spent force.
So my hunch is she will continue to do well in any poll unless there is any development that could damage her significantly.