On May 24, a day after taking oath as the chief minister of Tamil Nadu for the fifth time, All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) supremo J Jayalalithaa signed five documents that included a series of development projects. According to experts, her focus will be on economic development and growth ahead of next year's Assembly elections.
The projects include an employment training scheme for women that will cost Rs 100 crore, road development projects amounting to Rs 1,800 crore - mainly in the rural areas - and water projects. She also plans to set up canteens and residential quarters for policemen. "This is a clear indication that Jayalalithaa will focus on more welfare measures, expansion of the Amma brand of low cost products and infrastructure projects ahead of the Assembly elections in 2016," said a political observer.
There is also speculation that the AIADMK may opt for an early election, cashing in on the positive sentiment after Jayalalithaa's acquittal by the Karnataka High Court in a disproportionate assets case earlier this month.
Her return as chief minister has come amid allegations that the order acquitting her had serious arithmetical errors. Opposition party Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Subramanian Swamy are both mulling options to appeal against the verdict.
Soon after she took over, the air was also thick with chatter about a Cabinet reshuffle and a rejig in the top civil service positions. Though nothing has changed on that front yet.
While in Tamil Nadu, AIADMK is keen on consolidating its position with victory in next year's polls, it is also looking at strengthening its equation with the BJP-led government at the Centre. Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was one of the few leaders who met Jayalalithaa at her residence after she was granted bail. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also congratulated her when she took charge as chief minister.
AIADMK's support for the land acquisition Bill in the Rajya Sabha, where it has 11 members, is crucial for the BJP. In the Lok Sabha, the party initially opposed the Bill but later supported it. Jayalalithaa justified her party's stand, stating that the Centre had addressed the issues related to the Bill raised by her party.
Jayalalithaa's return has come as relief to the industry, which has been complaining about the lack of action in administration.An official from an MNC, which has an interest in automobiles, said that the order acquitting Jayalalithaa has cleared the "uncertainty" in the state, considering there was a lack of leadership in the state, and industry had nowhere to go to resolve administrative problems that it was facing. TVS CMD Venu Srinivasan, MRF Chairman K M Mamman, India Cements Managing Director N Srinivasan and Apollo Hospitals founder Prathap C Reddy have hailed the favourable order she received from the court, according to an AIADMK release.
A CEO of a large real estate firm said Jayalalithaa's return would bring consistency and will get things moving. "We can now expect policy decisions," he said. Jawahar Vadivelu, president, Southern India Chamber of Commerce and Industry agrees. "This will have a cascading effect on the plans announced earlier to position the state on a high growth path even amid global uncertainty."
S N Eisenhower, chairman, CII Tamil Nadu said that TN's Vision 2023 has added impetus to the growth prospects and the upcoming Global Investors Meet will be a significant achievement and will make "Tamil Nadu an investor's paradise".
Her comeback will also give a boost to some projects, including the much awaited Rs 15,000 crore metro rail project. Jayalalithaa has also mooted a monorail project and the Madurai-Thoothikudi industrial corridor.
The state government's target is to attract investment worth Rs 1 lakh crore. To achieve that goal, Tamil Nadu will play host to the Global Investors Meet - which was earlier scheduled for May - in September later this year.