A RAINY D-DAY: WOULD AMMA EMERGE A ‘BAAHUBALI’?

It was just six months ago when J Jayalalithaa, the chief minister of Tamil Nadu, miserably failed in addressing the destructive rains and floods that wreaked havoc in many parts of the state including Tamil Nadu’s capital Chennai.

Though Tamil Nadu was not the only South Indian state to face the rain aftermath then, with Andhra Pradesh also badly affected, the real worry was in Tamil Nadu – where Chennai saw the worst rainfall and flooding in 100 years. And the situation was not much different in many other parts.

To the scale that even Jayalalithaa’s ‘Baahubali’ avatar couldn’t save the state – even if Amma, as Jayalalithaa is affectionately called, tried hard to do – with her larger than life presence – on hoardings, on banners, on posters, on every sort of relief material including the food items.

‘Baahubali’ that translates to ‘muscleman or strongman’ is one of the most successful movies produced by the Indian film industry last year.

Last November-December, when Tamil Nadu was reeling under the miles high devastation of the flood aftermath, Jayalalithaa’s huge Baahubali hoardings cropped up, showing an all powerful Amma carrying a baby away from the horrors of the rain.

No need to say that was in bad taste – and attracted every sort of criticism and satire.

But that could not dim the prospects of a South Indian politics obsessed with film stars and personality cults.

Jayalalithaa has continued with her mission to make Tamil Nadu ‘Amma Nadu’, a state synonymous with her nickname. There are Amma baby kits. There are Amma canteens. A bottled water is brand named Amma. The list is long – Amma salt, Amma seeds, Amma pharmacies, Amma home appliances, even Amma cement and laptop – and this list is not exhaustive.

The way it has spread in Tamil Nadu in the last five years makes one feel that Jayalalithaa is going to rule Tamil Nadu for a long time, breaking the trend of consistent power transfer in the state, from AIADMK to DMK and vice versa, in subsequent elections.

We all felt so.

Many of us still feel so, even if there is a group that feels DMK has now fair chances to defeat Amma. Even some exit polls say so. If that indeed happens, the mishandling of the last year floods would be a major cause in this.

Tomorrow is the D Day when the results would be out.

And Tamil Nadu is again staring at massive rains. In fact, according to reports, Chennai received maximum rainfall in a day since 1995. Then there is a cyclone alert for Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. Teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and senior and junior level officials have been deployed to handle the aftermath.

But the million dollar question is – would voters give Amma another chance to ‘do or undo’ what she had done during the floods last year?

Another way to look at that is – if Amma wins the polls tomorrow – it would say Amma’s Baahubali act indeed established a connect with her supporters.

And that would further hasten the ‘Amma-fication’ of Tamil Nadu.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

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