7:35 pm: Karunanidhi has bucked the trend by winning in Tiruvarur by a massive margin of 50,249 votes
7:30 pm: The PM has congratulated Jayalalithaa for her thumping win while HRD Minister Kapil Sibal expressed surprise at the landslide and suggested that corruption may have been a factor.
7:15 pm: The final results of various constituencies are trickling in. DMDK leader Vijaykant has won the Rishivandiyam seat, defeating Sivaraj of the Congress by over 30,000 votes.
6.30 pm: Such is the extent of the DMK's drubbing that reports suggested Tamil Nadu Deputy Chief Minister MK Stalin had lost. However other reports indicate that he is leading by a few hundred votes.
6.10 pm: Karunanidhi says that the people of Tamil Nadu have given him a 'proper rest'.
6.05 pm: The final results in Pondicherry are out. The newly-formed NRC was the surprise package with 14 seats while its ally the AIADMK bagged five. The ruling Congress won seven seats and its ally DMK two. Others collected the remaining two seats.
5.20 pm: In Pondicherry, the AINRC-AIADMK alliance unseated the ruling Congress-DMK alliance in an extension of the anti-incumbency factor that gripped neighbouring Tamil Nadu. Former Chief Minister N Rangasamy, who split from the Congress to form his own party, is likely to become the CM once again. Read more about it here.
5.00 pm: MDMK chief Vaiko has welcomed the defeat of the DMK. "People of Tamil Nadu have trounced money power and crowned democracy," he said. Vaiko had boycotted the elections after the AIADMK refused to offer him a respectable number of seats to contest.
4:29 pm: The interviewer says, "one last question - when are you going to Delhi?" With a cheeky smile, Jayalalithaa asks innocuously, "for what?" He says, "to meet the people at the Centre, accept their congratulations, and tell them what you want them to do for Tamil Nadu". She replies, "let me first assume the post of Chief Minister. Then, I will schedule the visit."
4:28 pm: "Your untold sufferings and miseries are things of the past," Jayalalithaa says, "I give you my word that your future will be bright and glorious."
4:25 pm: Jayalalithaa closes the interview by conveying her thanks to the people of Tamil Nadu, and repeating that this isn't her victory, but a victory for the people, and saying, "You've suffered a lot over the past five years, faced injustice, shed tears of blood. Wipe those away. I promise that your future will glow bright."
She repeats the same in English, saying "democracy has been kept alive and vibrant by this electoral mandate."
4:24 pm: Asked about the monopoly on cable networks and cinema that the DMK has brought in, and what she intends to do about it, Jayalalithaa replies, "My goal is to fulfil all my promises from the election manifesto within the next year and a half."
4:23 pm: The interviewer asks if Jayalalithaa will pursue the 2G case, as she did when in Opposition. She replies, "The Supreme Court is taking action now. My duty is done, so we don't have to worry about that."
4:21 pm: The anchor asks, "When asked which state has been run the best over the past five years, people say Gujarat, Bihar, Orissa. For people to say Tamil Nadu, do you have a timeline?"
Jayalalithaa replies, "The time we've been given is 5 years. If the 2006 debacle hadn't happened, we'd have done more than Gujarat, Bihar or Orissa. Sadly, we didn't get the opportunity. Now, we will do it."
4:20 pm: "Effort is life," she says, when asked about how she will fulfil the promises she has made to sort out the problems of the farmers and people of villages, "I cannot be overwhelmed by the burden imposed on me. I have to do this for the people."
4:17 pm: Jayalalithaa says the DMK has thrown the entire state into debt of over 1 lakh crore by some calculations. "The need of the hour is to rebuild the entire state," she says, and repeats the metaphor of the house.
4:13 pm: Asked about the Lankan Tamils, she says, "Their life has become horrible because of the Sri Lankan government. I've spoken about this at several fora. The state government can only do so much, as this is an international problem. The Centre should take steps, and once I take over as CM, I will pressurise the Centre. There are two options. One, the President of Sri Lanka must be tried for war crimes, and brought before the International Court of Law. The Centre can direct its efforts to that. The next step is that the people of Sri Lanka should live in dignity and pride. If the Sri Lankan government does not do anything to promote this, we can impose economic sanctions, and advise other nations to do the same."
4:12 pm: When asked what she wants to convey to the people, she says, "this is not my victory or the AIADMK's victory. This is the victory of the people."
4:10 pm: Jayalalithaa begins by recapping what she said at the press conference. She adds, "people thought of how peaceful life was when AIADMK was in power. They thought back to the golden period, and wondered if they would live that peaceful life again. Over the last five years, people have been waiting to throw out this rule, to get us back in power. I was sure that people would not change their minds. So the exit polls didn't bother me. I knew this would happen."
4:09 pm: Jaya TV begins to telecast an 'exclusive' interview with Jayalalithaa. One wonders when they got in line!
3:58 pm: Jayalalithaa says the date of the swearing-in ceremony will be known only after the governor invites her to form government.
Thanking the people of Tamil Nadu for the "decisive mandate they have given us", conveying her appreciation and thanks to the Election Commission for conducting free and fair elections, and thanking her allies for the hard work they put in, Jayalalithaa smiles, nods farewell and disappears into her home.
3:56 pm: "Our first priority is to restore the rule of law and order", she says. Then she adds that the AIADMK will fulfil the "numerous promises" they have made in the manifesto.
When asked about Karunanidhi's comments against her, she says, "you should put the question to the person who made the statement." Then she smiles, "if he has the courage to face you now."
3:55 pm: She says the ruin is beyond description today, as corruption has been magnified "a thousand times, 10,000 times" and that the AIADMK will take it up as a challenge on behalf of the people.
3:53 pm: "It is not an easy task to rebuild an entire state," Jayalalithaa says. She then brings in the metaphor of a house, and says renovation is easy, patching up the weak spots. "When the foundation is gone, the ground has been shaken, and debris is scattered everywhere, we have to clear it away first," she says, "time and again, we've had to do it. Time and again, I have had to do it."
She speaks of her stints in 1991 and 2001, and how the World Bank had written off Tamil Nadu, and everyone had pitied her for having to take over as Chief Minister.
3:52 pm: "Today, our priority is to bring back stability to Tamil Nadu. The economy has been ruined over the past three years. Time and again, this has happened."
3:51 pm: Answering a question, Jayalalithaa says she could see that wherever she went, she could see that people were disgusted with the DMK government, and were waiting for an opportunity to show their anger and resentment against the DMK. Over the last three years, they were waiting for elections, to throw out the DMK government, she says.
3:50 pm: Jaya begins with, "who is going to ask the questions?" Then, she thanks the people of Tamil Nadu and the voters from the bottom of the heart, and says this is not her victory, but that of the people and democracy. She then translates that into English for the benefit of the English and Hindi channels.
3:48 pm: Jaya TV's expert panel returns after a twenty-minute break. The anchor interrupts again as the live telecast of Jayalalithaa's speech begins.
3:36 pm: The scheduled address has not begun. We're considering taking a vote. What is delaying Jaya? a) She can't find the right shoes to go with her sari. b) She can't find the right shawl to go with her sari. c) They can't make the mics. work at her place either. d) The astrologers are demanding their pound of flesh. e) She's locked herself in and is shimmying a victory jig to her old songs.
3:26 pm: Jaya TV has changed its panel, and the anchor introduces Expert 1, an Associate Director from Frontline magazine. He begins with his staple question, "why has the DMK lost? I'm asking you in your capacity as a journalist."
Expert 1 says, "the main reason is the unconvincing coalition" and goes on to explain that there was a troubled alliance between the DMK and the Congress. The anchor prods him on, "was that the only reason?"
"Not really," says Expert 1, "it's also the corruption and scams. There are problems in many places, and the people are watching them." The anchor interrupts and goes into an ad break. Huh?
3:24 pm: Jayalalithaa is scheduled to make her victory speech on Jaya TV at 3:30 pm.
3:22 pm: Home Minister P Chidambaram has expressed his disappointment at the outcome. "We are disappointed. I take this opportunity to congratulate the AIADMK and its allies on their splendid victory and wish the new government success," he said.
3:19 pm: On Jaya TV, the Marxist Communist representative launches another diatribe against the DMK. The anchor continues to beam, and the other panelist looks on sleepily. Vijay dances yet again.
3:14 pm: Sun News flashes the pictures of DMK contestants, even as it announces that they're losing in their respective constituencies. The text deceptively reads, "This DMK candidate trails AIADMK by 3400 votes".
3:12 pm: Meanwhile, Sun TV continues to flash news that Jayalalithaa will assume the title of Chief Minister on Sunday, as Dhanush rides a bike that looks too big for him.
3:10 pm: Sun News focuses on a correspondent, who speaks of the see-sawing nature of the vote count, after reading out a list of figures, and finally says, "DMK was leading, then ADMK was leading, and now again DMK is leading." Sensing this could go on forever, the production control room cuts to graphics.
2:56 pm: Comedian-turned-politician S. Ve. Shekher, who was expelled from the AIADMK in 2009 and joined the Congress party early this year, is on the Raj TV panel now. Grinning, he compares the elections to a horse-race, in which a horse may get injured along the way, when the anchor asks him how he had such high expectations of the Congress' performance.
2:48 pm: Sun TV says Jayalalithaa leads in Srirangam by 11,715 votes, and then starts playing the movie 'Thiruda Thirudi' ('Male Thief, Female Thief'). Is there a sub-text to this? Hmm.
2:45 pm: The graphics flashed by Jaya TV focus on the thumping victories of AIADMK candidates over the DMK contestants, as Expert 1 speaks of how Ramadoss' children and grandchildren studied Hindi and Sanskrit, and how the public has seen through his pro-Tamil act, and does not believe that he teaches his descendants to speak their language.
2:43 pm: Jaya TV seems to be too busy criticising the components of the alliance that Jayalalithaa often referred to as "minority government" to be aware of the resignation drama.
2:41 pm: Sun TV mournfully announces that Jayalalithaa will take on the post of Chief Minister on Sunday.
2:39 pm: KARUNANIDHI RESIGNS, PARTY WORKERS APPEAL TO HIM TO STAY ON. Sun TV also gets into a news telecast and announces that Karunanidhi has resigned as Chief Minister.
2:37 pm: Sun News breaks into a news telecast, where the newscaster clinically announces the results from various constituencies, and then moves on to the other states.
2:30 pm: Sun News cuts live to Poes Garden, where the correspondent tries to convey that Jayalalithaa has let down her allies by announcing that she will set up government. The AIADMK supporters first drown him out, and then his earpiece malfunctions. The beleagured anchor says, "speak...speak...speak" in a paternal voice, and the correspondent yells, "hello?...hello?...hello?" They cut back to a different anchor and a studio analyst who supplies the numbers.
2:25 pm: The anchor on Jaya TV compares the relief measures given to the Vanniyar caste to a mirage in the desert, and asks a representative for his opinion. Vanniyar Rep (VR) says his caste supported Karunanidhi in 2006 because he promised them reservation. But since he didn't deliver, they supported Jayalalithaa this time. VR says, "Karunanidhi has not just done nothing; he has thrown mud on our lives. He says he'll do everything. All he's done is for his family. He has married 5-6 times, had 10-12 children, stowed away crores!" The anchor, who seems to be enjoying the repartee, regretfully tells us it's time for a break. Vijay begins to dance again.
2.17 pm: The morning's anchor a.k.a. Man With a Tiny Bit of Knowledge of Astrology is all smiles on Jaya TV. He welcomes us to this delightful morning - clearly, he's a time-traveller too - and happily shows us a pie chart that declares the 200-33-1 figures of AIADMK-DMK-Others. With a member of the Marxist Communist Party on the panel, he asks, "you're largely responsible for the victory, right, for exposing the scams?" Even the party member looks surprised, and the anchor says, "I mean, everyone has worked together. What did you expose?"
2:14 pm: Vijay TV does not seem to care who wins. There's a Tamil-dubbed version of 'Black Water' playing right now. If you don't care for the results, and really, really want to see Australians speak Tamil, you might as well park yourself here.
2:11 pm: Raj TV has changed its panel too, and has shifted focus to West Bengal. The panel seems to be made up of a pro-Left, an anti-Left and a redundant member.
2:07 pm: Ah, here's what we were waiting for! The Blame Game begins on Sun News! The panel now feels that the DMK lost because it aligned with the Congress, which is at the centre of corruption.
A Congress member says fatalistically, "say what you want. We have ruled for 50 years. So the good is because of us; and where the good is defeated, our failure is because of us." The beleagured anchor, with a fresh coat of pink powder, nods approvingly, and then looks serious.
2:05 pm: Jaya TV is back, with a different panel. Kalaignar TV has given up and moved on to a three hour film called 'Mr. Bharath'. More power to Rajnikanth in bell-bottoms, a floral scarf and an evil look taking on a suited-up Sathyaraj (who had to powder his wig at the time).
1:47 pm: AIADMK leader Thambidurai has declared that his party will form a government on its own rather than share power with its allies. No surprise, there. Thambidurai also suggested that the AIADMK will proactively pursue cases of corruption against the DMK's first family. "The people have voted to root out the DMK corrupt government. It is the duty of my leader to take the necessary action and go through all these cases," he said. Read the story here.
1:43 pm: A tweet led us to this hilarious article on http://ww5.4tamilmedia.com/index.php/newses/india/3163-2011-03-03-09-02-37, an article on wall posters in Madurai. One reads "Raja has been arrested. When will you arrest roja (the rose)?"
Another, put up by a member of the VCK, reads "DMK, PMK, please think about the Vidudhalai Chituthaigal. Do you need to align with the Congress, which is one of the main causes of the genocide of Lankan Tamils, and which doesn't care about the deaths of our fishermen?" Scroll down, and you'll see...wait, is that Azhagiri as Fidel Castro?!
1:40 pm: We also have a profile of Karunanidhi - the man who could not turn the tide this time
1:15 pm: Latest trends suggest that Karunanidhi is heading for a landslide victory in his constituency of Tiruvarur with a lead of over 21,000 votes. Remember, unlike Jayalalithaa, the DMK patriarch has never lost in an assembly election dating back to 1957 when he was first elected from Kulithalai.
12:59 pm: Kalaignar TV begins a countdown to its news telecast. It doesn't look like it will be cancelled now!
12:58 pm: Strangely, DMK mouthpiece Murasoli has nothing to say about the elections. The latest news on the site is that Karunanidhi has announced that the national flag will fly at half-mast as a sign of mourning for Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu, who passed away in a helicopter crash last week!
12: 57 pm: Stalin has regained the lead in a see-saw battle in Kolathur. No such problems for Jayalalithaa who's established a healthy lead of over 3500 votes in Srirangam.
12:51 pm: Raj TV has its own analysis going too. A panel of three people discusses conspiracy theories. One of the experts says, "From what I hear, the reason the DMK coalition is losing so badly is that in some areas, the Congress supporters didn't vote for the DMK, and in some places, the DMK supporters didn't vote for the Congress."
"So, essentially, they cut off their noses to spite their faces," the anchor nods intelligently.
"Yes," says the expert. The other two experts, who had been engaged in a violent verbal argument a few minutes earlier, have nothing to say.
12:46 pm: Well, let's take a look at the relatively neutral media, shall we? The DD Podhigai figures show a 194-39 lead for the AIADMK. They cut live to Poes Garden as Jayalalithaa steps out on to her balcony and makes the V-sign. The crowd goes hysterical. The anchor says Jaya is due to hold a press conference shortly.
12:35 pm: Cho speaks, and his voice breaks - not because he's getting emotional, but the microphone's cranky. Clearly, the electronic equipment in the studio took offence to Astrologer 3 crediting the airwaves and not them.
Cho finally announces, "The exit polls of TV channels, the articles of newspapers, SMS campaigns etc. said the ADMK won't win, the DMK will by a small margin. I said the ADMK will have a majority by itself, and the coalition will win. Why? Because it was obvious. People were waiting to throw out the DMK. People published the wrong news, and some voters were surprised. But in the end, the DMK is going out. I've never seen a more stupid management of electricity till now. No steps were taken to do anything about it, whatsoever. Then, there is the sand mining mafia. Everything from sand to water to everything else is stolen."
The anchor thanks him as the mic. crackle begins again, and says generously, "stealing anything is all right. But our own brothers and sisters, the Lankan Tamils...why was the DMK so uninvolved?" "I'll tell you why," says Expert 2, "Karunanidhi and his family have set up and supported several industries in Sri Lanka. Their main concern was that these should not be harmed."
"We'll discuss this in more detail," promises the anchor, and Vijay begins to dance on screen as the ad break begins.
12:32 pm: Reports now suggest that Deputy CM MK Stalin is trailing his AIADMK rival Saidai Doraisamy in Kolathur. If Stalin loses, his brother Azhagiri will have the upper hand in the power struggle to succeed their father.
Several other DMK ministers are also trailing including veteran politician K Anbazhagan in Villivakkam.
12: 30 pm: Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad has predictably blamed the anti-incumbency factor for the defeat. "Last time, it was the turn of the DMK to win and this time if one goes by that convention it was AIADMK’s turn," he said. Azad also denied that the Congress had blundered by contesting over 60 seats, saying that the demand for more seats helped the party 'reassert' itself.
12: 28 pm: On Jaya TV, the anchor sings out aphorisms. Red-White has been retained, while Expert 2 has changed. The discussion now centres on the family and their business interests. "Dayalu, who was nowhere in the picture has now been caught," Expert 2 declares, "the next arrow will pounce on Karunanidhi."
"You can have some illiterate grandmother or grandfather as the director of a channel, and then make them tell the CBI they don't know English, they don't know Hindi, they don't know Tamil or whatever you want, and then say 'Hey, let them go, they don't know anything'. But are people fools? And you know how this 60 percent of Dayalu is divided - 20 to Stalin, 20 to Azhagiri, 20 to Tamilarasi, and then..." The anchor interrupts to say "Cho Ramaswamy is waiting to speak to us".
12: 26 pm: Read about the phenomenon called Jayalalithaa in our profile of the Iron Lady.
12:24 pm: Sun News has finally relieved the morning anchor. A new panel discusses the election in such sombre tones one is reminded of Mani Ratnam's early movies, and the whispers in the dark that characterised them.
12:22 pm: Sun TV has the lead of the AIADMK coalition to the DMK at 196-37. Simbhu dances silambaattam, while Jyotika whistles. The movie will not be interrupted by news.
12:14 pm: The Congress has graciously offered its best wishes to Jayalalithaa. Spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan said that the party would 'introspect.' Ms Natarajan also affirmed that the alliance with the DMK would continue. "We cannot give up on our allies just because of an election defeat," she said.
12:12 pm: The Jaya TV panel is now discussing a series of atrocities, including the lathi charge of students of the Law College. "Sir, I am telling one thing, kindly listen" Red-White says to Expert 2, "there is no protection even for law enforcers. A policeman is killed in front of ministers. A policewoman says she was sexually harassed. Where is there protection for ordinary people?" As if on cue, a trailer of Vijay starrer 'Velayudam' comes on.
12:12 pm: Jaya TV's panel now moves on to the spectrum scam. The anchor says, "we've heard of scams running into thousands of rupees...into lakhs....into crores. But never lakhs of crores! Even children know of the scam. A grandfather told his grandson, 'Once upon a time, there was a Raja in a town' and the child said, 'Yes, I know, and he stole all the money and went to jail.'
Before the panel can laugh, a correspondent is on the line from Madurai, and says 5-6 rounds of counting are over, and AIADMK is in the lead. The channel then shows us the contrast between the crowds outside the AIADMK headquarters, and the empty streets around the DMK headquarters, Anna Arivaalayam.
12.10 pm: In some news coming in from Pondicherry, former CM and All-India NR Congress founder N Rangasamy defeats Congress rival V Pethaperumal
12:04 pm: A panel is back on Jaya TV. On the left is a man whose hair is evenly divided between red and white. He says, "look at the film industry. They're in everything. Every cineplex is only allowed to play movies produced by his grandsons. You know, a small trader said, 'Oh, I bought something for 300, and sold it for 450, I made a profit'. I said, 'be careful, if someone from the DMK overhears you, they'll take over your business!'
"The anchor says, "you know, they say 'Don't blame the dark; light a candle'. But there are power cuts from 9 am to 5 pm. What is this embarrassing situation because of?" Red-White says, "Of course! Arcot Veersamy didn't get the ticket because he said we'll lose because of the power cuts! They give corporates uninterrupted power supply. Who suffers? The middle-class and the farmers!"
11:53 am: The beleaguered anchor's back on Sun News. The panel has moved on from the - ahem, power struggle.
Expert 1 says, "the people need to be reminded of what Jayalalithaa does. More importantly, her allies need to be reminded. In 2003, she pulled out of the NDA government, pulling the carpet from under its feet, on impulse."
Expert 2 turns out to be a member of the Marxist Communist Party. He says, "this is a clear indicator that people wanted change. Some impulsive decisions were taken on technical issues. Those are only technical."
Expert 1 says, "but even when the contestants were announced, her allies' wishes were not taken into consideration."
Expert 2 says, "No, no, that's a technical issue, that's not wrong." Expert 1 grins, "that IS wrong." The anchor defeatedly announces a break. We come back to Election News, as the panel has to be reconstituted!
11:49 am: Sun News continues to supply graphics. Sun TV seems to have cancelled its scheduled news telecast for 1:00 pm. Simbhu a.k.a. STR and Jyotika continue to dance.
11:46 am: Jaya TV, meanwhile, breaks its programming schedule to bring us the live telecast of crackers being burst. The panel has gone, to be replaced by newscaster Fathima Babu, who does a round-up of the leads in various states and constituencies.
11:43 am: As noon approaches, Kalaignar TV has changed its programming schedule again. Now, the programme 'Maanaada Mayilaada' has been extended till 1:00 p.m. Looks like re-runs of dancing deer and peacock are more important right now than the election results. Well, at least the judges are laughing.
11:32 am: Sun News' panel has spoken about how there may be allegations about a certain amount being lost to the exchequer, but then, the amounts of money that Jayalalithaa stole during her time in power are not accounted for. The anchor announces a break again. One can't help feeling sorry for him. For the record, he has been on the sets since morning.
11:30 am: The Jaya TV panel now focuses on family politics, and how Jayalalithaa as a single woman whose children are the people of Tamil Nadu, is a more able administrator.
11:26 am: Jaya TV's panel has changed again. The anchor who dabbles in astrology is back, and they are discussing The Legend of the Thirteen Zeroes. "The PAC committee has said it," says Expert 1, "the ED has said it. The IT department has said it. Now, the case is going on in the Supreme Court, and the people are delivering their verdict." The anchor speaks of the celebrations in a rather sleepy voice, which is drowned out by the cries of the crowds the camera is focusing on.
11:22 am: Sun News' Expert 1 speaks of how the minority Muslim community, which he represents, has been aided by Karunanidhi, and alleges that Jayalalithaa is all talk, and never gives them space to voice their woes. He goes on to prove he zoned out when Expert 2 was speaking, when he says, "Like he said, the power deficit has been caused by Karunanidhi's concern that people should have access to electricity and electric lights. We only have 8000 MW allocated to us, but we need 12,000 MW. This situation has been forged by the DMK."
The anchor looks panicky, and announces a round-up of the results. Graphics and jazzy music follow. The soundtrack has changed yet again! It makes us happy.
11:21 am: Jaya TV focuses on visuals of people distributing trays of laddus and bursting crackers across Chennai.
11:15 am: Sun News is now discussing what fooled the people. Expert 2 says, "the problem is that AIADMK created so many problems in the preceding five years that the DMK has not been able to do solve all of them in its five years of golden rule. Because of this, people think that the governance was not all right. Let's take power for instance. We are still trying to make up for the excesses of Jayalalithaa's regime, which has caused a deficit. At least, Karunanidhi has announced that there will be cuts for one hour."
Clearly, they believe that the lighting for the functions held in Karunanidhi's honour every few days was supplied by his inner glow.
11:02 am: According to the Election Commission, Chief Minister M Karunanidhi is leading by 8886 votes in Thiruvarur but his son and deputy, MK Stalin, is facing a bigger fight on his hands, with only 145 votes separating him from his AIADMK rival in his new constituency of Kolathur. DMDK chief Vijayakant is ahead by 5750 votes from Rishivandiyam.
10:54 am: The Sun News anchor nods gravely, and looks more uncomfortable than he did when an expert chided him for saying the Trinamool was also the Congress. Expert 1 continues, "it's like people take up exchange offers. But one thing is true - all the societal problems we've had, all the things we need to do to make it an equal society, Kalaignar has come out and discussed. He has gone to the people. In Jayalalithaa's case, even the medicines wouldn't reach the people, leave alone her."
He sighs, and then launches into a eulogy that quickly takes on the tint of an obituary, "His greatness, his kindness to the people, his heart that beats for the people, his wisdom, his mastery of language..." Without completing the thought with a predicate, he says, "If Jayalalithaa comes to power, will she show us a changed face, or will she be the same dictator she was?" He seems to catch the anchor's eye and hurries on, "this is too premature. We can't discuss results yet."
The anchor looks happy to be able to agree. "Only about four rounds are over, I think," the expert says, "no one can hide the fact that Jayalalithaa is leading. But no one can hide the fact that Karunanidhi is generous." On that bizarre note, they get into the graphics. Thankfully, the music has changed.
10:51 am: Finally! Sun News has a new panel in place. Well, the anchor's the same. But an analyst, looking like his favourite ice cream is curdling in his mouth even as he speaks, says, "See, under Kalaignar, there were more schemes to benefit people than under any other party or any other governance at any other period. I'm not going to get into why people are voting the way they are. But with people, when there's an opportunity for change, they think "Ah, how would it be if things changes?" This opinion of the people, this inclination, has come to the fore. Though the AIADMK came up with many schemes against the people, they want change."
Maybe it has to do with Barack Obama's current popularity ratings?
10:48 am: Sun News has the same graphics and the same music. Come on, guys, surely, you have a bigger database of music??? Kalaignar TV's got a man in shiny tight-fitting shirt and harem pants belly-dancing. We liked the clowns better.
10:45 am: Sun TV has Simbhu (or STR as he is now called) delivering punch dialogues as Jyotika looks on sadly. The movie 'Saravana' is on. The ticker says the AIADMK leads the DMK167-36.
10:41 am: Sun News now has a different anchor and a correspondent who reports on the numbers from another part of the studio. Their focus is, rather inexplicably, on West Bengal. Clearly, the Trinamool Congress - Congress rift has been taken to heart.
The 'Breaking News' portion of the ticker announces every few seconds that Karunanidhi has the lead in his constituency.
10:36 am: Kalaignar TV now has Sudha Chandran giving two people feedback on their dancing act. The two dancers are dressed as clowns. The audience looks sheepish. The election programme has now been postponed to 12 noon. Wonder when talk of a conspiracy by the AIADMK will start!
10:33 am: Politician now holds forth, "People have decided we must do away with this Kaattu Darbar (jungle rule). Crossing the lines of caste and class, they have voted in favour of the alliance that will save them in an overwhelming majority. This shows that people have overcome barriers. Even a person in a village, wearing a loincloth, speaks about the spectrum scam."
10:28 am: Jaya TV has now decided it's pointless to show the AIADMK-DMK ratio, and is focusing on the leads of the AIADMK and its allies instead. The panel has changed, but there's a journalist-politician combination anyway.
The anchor asks Journalist, "why has the DMK lost so badly? We all know, but what is the main reason?" "The main reason is...," Journalist frowns, "his sons danced on the heads of the people." They break off into detailed statistics on the leads.
10:26 am: Jubilant AIADMK cadres celebrate with crackers outside the Poes Garden residence of their Puratchi Thalaivi. This may well be the political epitaph of Karunanidhi.
10:20 am: Sun News is still putting up graphics of results. Now, they're focusing on how the BJP has lost ground in all 234 constituencies. Are they changing the panel? And are the traffic diversions causing a delay? This channel says the AIADMK leads the DMK 165-41, and they're now supplying the smiling photographs of every DMK contestant who is leading anywhere in the state.
10:16 am: Kalaignar TV has now stopped telecasting songs, and is now showing a reality dance show, where Kala Master is praising a contestant's pirouette. Shampoo ads follow. Clearly, this is not a discussion of the election results.
10:11 am: "Why do you think people have voted against the DMK in such an overwhelming majority?" the Jaya TV anchor asks Lenin, "The law and order problem has escalated horribly over the last five years, hasn't it? On a leader's birthday, you can do good deeds. But why let criminals out of jail. Isn't it?"
"True," says Lenin, "there was the case of the DMK setting his own grandson's news agency on fire and killing three people. Then, there's the sand mining. People have been targeted and killed for agitating against it!"
"And they have poisoned everything!" says the anchor, "mountains, forests, rivers..."
"Yes," says Lenin, "during the campaign, I said the DMK can't draw its symbol anymore, because the mountains have gone. They can only draw the sun."
He looks expectantly at the others, who laugh. "Jewellery and money being stolen is an everyday affair now!" says Lenin. "Yes, sir, I want to keep speaking to you," gushes the anchor, rather incongruously, "but now we bring you the sweet visuals of sweets being distributed in Poes Garden."
He then glares at the camera, "you can fool some people for some time. You can fool many people many times. But you cannot fool all the people all the time. This is a whiplash which PROVES IT!" He points his finger at the camera fiercely.
10:07 am: A correspondent finally gets through, and speaks about how journalists are not being allowed into the counting centre. "Why? Why are we not being allowed?" fumes the anchor.
"No, sir, no one is allowed," says the correspondent.
"But do you know why?" the anchor cries.
"Election regulations, sir," says the correspondent.
"All right!" the anchor says cheerfully, "but we know Amma Jayalalithaa is leading in Srirangam now. Let's talk about farmers."
10:04 am: Jaya TV's correspondents are having phone line trouble. Was Astrologer 3 wrong about the airwaves? As the anchor says, "We can't hear them because of the people shouting with joy", the correspondent crackles, "hello? hello?"
9:57 am: Jaya TV's panel has changed. The anchor introduces analyst TSS Mani and comrade Lenin...of the CPI. (Come on, belief in astrology doesn't mean they're playing planchet!)
The anchor says, "Mr. Mani, you're a journalist. The things that have happened over the past 5 years, the attempted gagging of the media is well known. Three people were killed, there was the fake medicine case, Kanimozhi, the daughter of the CM, is now fighting a host of cases. Do you think the anger of the people is finding an outlet?"
TSS Mani says, "You spoke of the three people who were killed. Who vs. whom was that? Who was the paper owned by? Who did the killing? The same goes for the CEO, the MD of the channel that bears Kalaignar's name. Who against whom was that, when they got beaten up? There are problems within the family, and people of the public are being killed and beaten up. You know of how someone was beaten up in a Chennai hotel. If you think you can do whatever you want, people will take a stand."
The anchor says, "Yes, people thought they could buy the public over. They're finding out which is more powerful, the rule of money or the rule of the people." Mani adds, "Who has the power - the ruler or the public? We'll find out."
9:52 am: Is there an underlying message in Kalaignar TV's songs? Right now, a woman is singing about the joy of nostalgia, and the memories of a time when she was happy. A couple of lines go, "People who don't remember things they should, people who shun me when I need them most." Hmm.
9:47 am: The Maran-owned Sun News has the AIADMK alliance leading the DMK alliance 135-31. They've now trained their focus on the DMK MLAs and ministers who are leading the vote count in various constituences. Their panel doesn't seem to have kissed and made up yet.
9:44 am: Jaya TV is now telecasting the hysteria near Poes Garden. An expert prematurely declares, "A wave of victory", as the anchor says, "A wave of excitement" and the other expert says, "a wave of jubilation". The anchor smiles indulgently, "The AIADMK is leading everywhere. Our guests are very happy. I have a sweet news for you. AIADMK is leading in 130 places, and the DMK only in 17 places."
9:43 am: An interesting Tamil Nadu factoid: The first assembly elections involving Tamil Nadu (in the Madras State as it was known then) threw up a hung assembly.
The Congress party, the leading party in the state then, could only win 152 of the 375 seats.
They were forced to turn to that towering figure in Indian politics, C Rajagopalachari (who later refused to stand for a by-election and had to be nominated by the governor).
The wily legend managed to lure back T Prakasam, a key figure, and engineer a series of re-alignments of the various political parties and the independents. When the vote of confidence came, Rajaji won it by 200 votes to 151.
9:41 am: Jaya TV has now begun to discuss how the Election Commission monitored the campaigning and voting period. The experts concur that they were very receptive to Jayalalithaa's appeals, and did a great job.
9:37 am: Now, Sun News has the AIADMK leading 112-30, Jaya TV has the equation at 116-16. Kalaignar TV has broken off into telecasting songs. Huh? What happened?
9:32 am: The Sun TV panel has made peace now. Expert 2 says, "See, Mr. V K (Rangarajan) expressed the view that the Trinamool Congress is different from the Congress. But you must remember that the Trinamool split from the Congress. The TMC, under Moopanaar, Tha Ma Ka as we say it, also split from the Congress, but they were allies."
The anchor nods and moves on to a discussion on Nandigram. Expert 1 a.k.a. VK begins, "see, when a party has been ruling for 38 years...well, you have to understand that West Bengal is not like Tamil Nadu. In Tamil Nadu, when someone begins an industry..."
At this, the anchor looks panicky and interrupts, "we'll be back after an update on the performances in different constituencies."
9:29 am: Chief Minister M Karunanidhi leading by 3000 votes in Tiruvarur and Deputy Chief Minister MK Stalin leading by 2000 votes in Kolathur.
9:26 am: Nakkeeran Gopal now speaks about how no one can go near Loyola college, and how this election is a snub to everyone. The anchor looks puzzled, but agrees anyway, and then says, "there was a lot of difference between the DMK campaigning and ADMK campaigning, right?"
Journalist chimes in, "yes, I can either tell them what I can do. Or I can tell them your faults. DMK did the former, ADMK the latter."
Nakkeeran Gopal says, "arrogance has never served well." They conclude: 'DMK says we'll save you from punishment. ADMK says we'll punish the DMK, now people are punishing them.' They congratulate each other for their brilliant analysis.
9:22 am: Kalaignar TV's expert panel has taken a break from election analysis and is indulging in mutual admiration. The anchor finally leads away from this to ask, "can an intelligent psephologist fix survey results?"
Journalist answers, "yes, definitely. I can conspire to fix the results of survey and present it in a scientific manner."
9:19 am: Sun TV, playing dramatic music, gives us details of the votes counted and leads, constituency by constituency. Looks like the experts and the anchor are still sorting out their little disagreement.
9:16 am: There's a whole new look to Jaya TV. The astrologers have disappeared, the anchor has changed, and now the expert panel consists of two scholars and political pundits. "Dr. Thambidurai," says the anchor, "what are the main issues this election?"
Expert 1 begins, "the election is basically a public declaration of what the people want."
The anchor, looking awed, begins to take notes. Expert 1 continues, "people want a change. On February 13, 2010, when Amma went to Vizhupuram, lakhs of people came to see her. That was the true declaration of what the people wanted."
9:12 am: Jaya TV has AIADMK leading at 45-5, Kalaignar TV has the DMK leading at 28-26, Sun TV has the DMK leading at 28-27
9:02 am: Sun TV, which has moved on from discussions on communications and technology to the voting percentages in West Bengal, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, switches every now and again to a roving correspondent, who looks quite beleagured, having travelled from Loyola College to Queen Mary's.
She repeats that the area has been cordoned off, people are counting votes, and ball point pens are not allowed into the counting house. The anchor thanks her for the in-depth anaylsis, and then moves on to how well the Congress has been performing.
Expert 1 grins, "You're talking about West Bengal? The Trinamool has a clear lead. So what do you mean the Congress is doing well?" The anchor says, "no, I mean..."
Expert 2 tells Expert 1: "No, he means that the Trinamool, though it has a different flag and different members, is also made up of Congress people. It is Trinamool CONGRESS."
Expert 1, who seems bent on taking the anchor down, grins, "well, he's already said that the DMK has done about 90 percent of what Kamaraj promised." The anchor, irritated, says, "let's leave Kamaraj aside for now. Time for a break."
8:54 am: Kalaignar TV, where the expert panel seems to be Nakkeeran Gopal + Journalist, where the latter is a variable, is now discussing how deluded the exit polls are.
Journalist explains, "see, the problem is, they are focusing on Chennai, which goes by caste. Let me give you an apolitical example. Let's say we take a survey, ask people whether they prefer Nithyasree Mahadevan or Pushpavanam Kuppuswamy. Who is the better singer?" He smiles, as if to say 'how clever am I!"
The others nod approvingly at his example. "In Chennai, obviously, Nithyasree madam will win. But if you look at the whole of Tamil Nadu...some of the towns may not even have heard of her!"
8:50 am: Jaya TV claims AIADMK has a lead in the postal votes, while the Sun Network and Kalaignar TV give DMK the lead.
8:44 am: Astrologer 3 is speaking of vasthu on Jaya TV. He says, "The biggest bootham of the Panchaboothams (Five Elements) is Vayu and helps Jayalalithaa. Look, communication happens through the airwaves. The correct communication has reached the voters, as to who is corrupt and who is not. A year before or so, the communication transfer was confused. But it's got fine-tuned in the last year, and as we get closer to D-Day...seven months, six months, and so on, it's become progressively sharper. The vayu grahanam is aiding Amma."
8:41 am: According to Jaya TV, AIADMK is leading in 4 constituencies, while according to Kalaignar TV, the DMK is leading in 4 constituencies, and other smaller parties in 1. Sun News and Sun TV say AIADMK leads in 3, DMK in 8.
8:37 am: Nakkeeran Gopal now says, "The thing is, people of the higher castes have decided 'we should somehow make Jayalalithaa win.' She promises to help youngsters. But she spends 4 months a term in Tamil Nadu, and 4 and three quarters of a year in Kodanad. People will get fooled. They'll think they can pay off their loans and fees, and they're going to get fooled."
Another round of tongue-clicking follows, and now they begin to discuss how sad it is that people are so naive as to sit in an AC room, become armchair philosophers and predict an AIADMK win. Then, they move on to Kerala.
8:31 am: "There's going to be a change in Tamil Nadu," says Kalaignar TV's anchor, and hurriedly goes on, "I mean, not a change of rule. But a change of pattern. Since 1984, no party has won twice in a row."
"Definitely," says Nakkeeran Gopal, "you know, people come and tell me 'only AIADMK will win.' I ask them, 'dude, what makes you say that?' Because they will have reasons. They've cast their votes for the DMK, but they say AIADMK will win. They say, 'no, sir, AIADMK has created a web of deceit. A conspiracy."
Kalaignar TV's anchor says, "well, you're an analyst. You're from the media. I shouldn't speak against the media, but..."
Nakkeeran Gopal, with a benign smile, says graciously, "yes, yes, it's sad. The media is supposed to be neutral, but..."
"Exactly!" says the anchor, "Jayalalithaa and Vijaykanth and the media owned by them have not been neutral at all." They all click their tongues in sorrow.
8:26 am: Astrologer 2 is now asked by Jaya TV's anchor, "Astrology is a great science, right? What is the connection between the horoscopes of the people of the nation, and the time at which votes are declared?"
Astrologer 2 speaks of the link between the nation's fate and Amma's fate being along the lines of the relationship between a mother and child.
Looking rather nonplussed, the anchor announces that votes are being counted in Srirangam, Puducherry. Then, he turns to Astrologer 2 again, "what about the horoscopes of women? It seems it's a lucky year for women?"
"Definitely!" says Astrologer 2, "yes, definitely. The law and order problems will lessen dramatically because of this connection." All the men in the studio nod, and go into a break.
8:23 am: Strangely enough, at this time, Sun TV is waxing poetic about the wonders of communication, and how technology has enabled politicians to reach out to the public. Propaganda slips in as they discuss how the crowds at the DMK rallies during campaigning were not as overwhelming as usual, because the DMK had used advanced methods to reach out to the voters, all of whom had benefited from its generous doling out of freebies.
8:19 am: Expert 2 tells the Kalaignar TV anchor that Kalaignar Karunanidhi, at 86, has the maturity to run a state (as opposed to Jayalalithaa, who is but a greenhorn at 62). The anchor announces that in breaking news, the first postal vote has been cast in favour of the DMK. Nakkeeran Gopal struggles to get his hands into the frame and claps right by the lapel mic., drowning out the rest of the anchor's speech.
8:09 am: Kalaignar TV has a couple of in-studio experts too. The more vocal of these is 'Nakkeeran Gopal', editor of Tamil news magazine 'Nakkeeran', who was arrested under the POTA in 2003 (during Jayalalithaa's rule) in the Rajamaniman missing case of 1999.
8:06 am: The anchor next asks, "And the first vote in Srirangam was cast at a time that was very lucky for Amma?" Astrologer 1 is flabbergasted, "you ask very incisive questions. I think you know some astrology too." The anchor blushes, and laughs uncomfortably. "Yes, a little bit, a tiny bit," he says, modestly. Astrologer 1 breaks off into a euphoric soliloquy on the greatness of Lord Sriranganathan, and His partiality to Jayalalithaa. They go into a break on that note.
8:04 am: Whoa! Jaya TV just pulled one out of the hat. Three astrologers swoop down to the studio. "Have you ever seen a one-month gap between the casting of votes and the counting?" the anchor zooms in on the propaganda rightaway.
"Never!" asserts Astrologer 1, "never ever!"
"Never ever?" asks the anchor.
"NEVER!" cries the astrologer, "the reason this is happening is because it's been written so in Amma's horoscope. Her lucky period starts at a particular time today. Amma was born on a Pournami (full moon) day and that means most doshams won't occur. She is straightforward and brave. And you know what's strange? Her lucky days are Tuesday - you'll remember the casting of votes was Tuesday - and Friday...today is Friday! For her planetary positions to reach the most positive alignment, it's taken a month. That's why there was a lag."
Never mind that Ms. JJ was vocal about her disapproval of the lag!
8:03 am: A nervous newscaster reads out on Sun News, "The ballots will be counted from the ballot box. The first one will be counted at 9:00 am. The counting centres have been cordoned off."
7:57 am: And we're up and running, folks. Jaya TV, which usually plays oldies in the morning, telecasts a special oldies show 'J Hits', showcasing songs that starred Jayalalithaa and MGR. Every ad break dramatically proclaims that live coverage of elections will begin at 8:01 am. The Sun Network and Kalaignar TV seem to have taken the early advantage by starting their live coverage at 8:00. Who's chosen the lucky number? The montages are on as we speak.
No party has won successive assembly elections in Tamil Nadu since 1984. That should be comforting for AIADMK supremo J Jayalalitha who has returned to Chennai for the counting of votes after a relaxing stint at her luxurious Kodanadu retreat in the Nilgiris.
The DMK's victory in the 2006 elections was attributed to the freebies offered in their election manifesto. They followed the same tried and tested route to success again. Chief Minister M Karunanidhi suggested that if the 2006 manifesto was the hero of the last election, this time it will be the heroine.
But the DMK was in for a shock when the AIADMK manifesto came out five days later. Showing scant respect for the DMK's intellectual property rights, the AIADMK produced a list of freebies that comfortably surpassed that of their arch-rival.
However there is no consensus among the various exit polls in the state which suggests that the DMK cannot be written off just yet, considering that they played one more card which could well be the joker in the pack.
Having tasted success in a 2009 by-election via the Thirumangalam model - which even caught the eye of a US diplomat as the recent Wikileaks revealed - the greasing of palms reached unprecedented levels this year. An astounding sum of Rs.49 crore seized during raids ahead of the elections remains unclaimed.
The Election Commission was accused of being over-zealous in enforcing the code of conduct and creating an emergency-like atmosphere but Chief Election Commissioner SY Quraishi brushed aside the charge. "Can we be faulted for discharging our Constitutional responsibilities sincerely and earnestly? Can we close our eyes to the rampant malpractices?", asked Quraishi with a rhetorical flourish.
Both the leading Dravidian parties had to indulge in some extremely hard bargaining with their alliance partners which almost reached the point of no-return. The DMK bluffed and blustered before being forced to part with 63 of the 234 assembly seats to the Congress. With its other partners also extracting their pound of flesh, the DMK was left with just 119. The AIADMK was on a better wicket and managed to keep 160 seats in its kitty with Vijayakanth's DMDK settling for 41.
Many leading lights have switched constituencies this time with the Chief Minister trying his luck from Tiruvarur, where he grew up, while Jayalalitha is contesting from the temple town of Srirangam. Other constituencies to watch out for include Rishivandiyam where Vijayakanth is in the fray and Kolathur which is the preferred choice of Deputy Chief Minister MK Stalin.
For the record, the DMK-led alliance has 163 seats in the current assembly to the AIADMK-led alliance's 69.
Most people outside Pondicherry are blissfully unaware that the Union Territory is also going to the polls. 30 seats are up for grabs across its four non-contiguous regions and the ruling Congress, which is backed from outside by the DMK, will be hoping to extend its reign in power.
Join us for live coverage of the election results at 8.00 am on Friday.