It’s sleepless nights for thousands of labourers who are engaged in setting up a massive stage for a 40-minute election rally addressed by the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) supremo and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalitha.
Jayalalitha’s hop-and-hop election campaign may have become a point of ridicule by her opponents including Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram, but few will realise the mammoth efforts that go into erection of dais for her rallies in far flung areas including in Namakkal district. At least 3,500 ground staff work round-the-clock behind the scene to make arrangements starting from setting up the aviation approved helipad for her helicopter to land, to accommodating a minimum of two lakh people, with a time-frame of just four days given to them. “It is difficult for us to create a flat surface for helipad within four days. In addition, obtaining permission from the civil aviation officials is very hard since they impose strict rules,” P Kandasamy, an organiser said.
“However, we need to do this assignment successfully,” he said. All the stage arrangements including helipad will have to be done in a minimum vacant flat area of five acres, which is usually difficult for the organisers to find. The 67-year-old chief minister, the sole crowd puller of AIADMK, has to criss-cross the 39 Lok Sabha constituencies if she wants to be part of the next government at the Centre. Entrusted with the task of overseeing the arrangements, it was sleepless nights too for Industries Minister P Thangamani, who hail from this constituency. “I am monitoring every minute preparations round-the-clock to ensure that there is no hitch or short comings in the work,” he said.Periyasamy, who is looking after the electrical works, said it was not that easy to install huge serial lights and speakers.
“However, it is a challenging task for these type of meetings to erect flood lights since sometimes the wire has to pass through even some trees near the venue,” he said. Everything from the time Jayalalitha sets out to the time she reaches the campaign venue, the size of the stage, the podium and how the candidates present themselves on stage before she delivers her speech are all well planned.
In a chat at the venue, the party cadres, while sharing their experiences and their daily schedule that starts from 6 am, said, “Though we do different things including setting up huge rubber elephants in the venue entrance to draw the attention of the people, our aim is to satisfy our Amma.”
As she alights at the helipad, ministers and the AIADMK poll officers of the constituency receive her with a bouquet of flowers. Then she gets on to the vehicle that ferries her to the campaign spot. After reaching the dais, waving the party symbol, she addresses the rally, returns to the helipad for the next destination or Chennai.