Launching the battle for vote Jayalalithaa vows to ban alcohol in a phased manner. She hopes to romp home and have another term as Chief Minister through this shrewd move on lines of neighbouring Kerala and far off Bihar, writes Vijay Grover
The prohibition bug has caught Tamil Nadu politics as well. Launching her campaign from Chennai on Saturday or April 9, the AIADMK chief Jayaram Jayalalithaa announced that if she returned to power, she would introduce phased prohibition in the State. “First we will restrict the timings of the shops then curtail their numbers to reduce availability and this would be followed up with shutdown of the bars. We will build rehabilitation centres to help those addicted to alcohol” announced Jayalalithaa in a bid to strike a chord among the women voters of the State. Taking a potshot at the DMK, she accused M Karunanidhi’s party of bringing back liquor to the State in 1971 by lifting total prohibition that was then in place in the State.
She was addressing a nearly 30,000-strong crowd of party workers and public to kick off her party’s campaign for the Assembly polls at Chennai’s Island Grounds under a heavy security cover. Starting her campaign from Chennai where she introduced the 21 candidates for the Chennai city, Jayalalithaa plans to travel to Cuddalore, Dharmapuri, Virudhanagar and rest of the southern parts of the State.
Jayalalithaa’s hectic campaign for the next fifteen days would take her across the State as she would campaign at several places for the party in a desperate bid to make history in the State by attempting a second successive chance to be at the helm of the State. Such a feat has never before been accomplished. Coining the slogan “Makkalale Naanu , Makkalakaage Naanu” (I am what I am because of masses and I am for the masses) Jayalalithaa took on the dynastic politics of the DMK. The Tamil Nadu Chief Minister surprised all the parties by the phased prohibition announcement in the manifesto which she released in the State Capital earlier in the day.
The move may give her an advantage over rivals and her popularity in the women voters is likely to go up. Tamil Nadu, after Kerala has the distinction of second highest per capita consumption of alcohol and, thus, this has been an area of concern. A movement for demanding prohibition in the State has been gaining ground for over a year or so and other smaller parties like PMK have been demanding this.
Recalling the success of her Amma brand of welfare schemes, Jayalalithaa declared that the promises made in the 2011 manifesto had been fulfilled.
She being the only star campaigner of the party has a tough task ahead of her as she will be under pressure to campaign across the State for the elections in a contest which has now become multi-cornered with entry of the DMDK led People’s Welfare Alliance and the BJP alliance with smaller parties. The last is going to seek votes in the name of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.