On a hot afternoon in Vriddhachalam, in Cuddalore district of Tamil Nadu, the charismatic Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa took stage at a rally organised ahead of the May 16 Assembly polls. It was around 3 pm and the sun beat down upon the crowds that had been waiting for her since 9 am. Many had come from places like Ariyalur and Perambalur, about 80 km away.
While many of these people wanted to catch a glimpse of Amma, as Jayalalithaa is popularly called, a large number of them admitted to journalists that they came because of the promise of Rs 250 per head for women, Rs 300 for men, a packet of biryani each, and a quarter bottle of hard liquor for the men. The crowd at the venue was approximately around one lakh. Even allowing for a conservative estimate, the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam must have spent a mind-boggling sum of money just on this rally alone. And there’s over a month left till polling day.