In the absence of the monolithic Jayalalithaa and Karunanidhi, Tamil Nadu will deliver a mixed verdict
Tamil Nadu is set to hold elections that are free from demi-gods in the absence of J Jayalalithaa and M Karunanidhi, the two leaders who had become larger than life enough to not only dominate state politics but alternately become kingmakers in national governments with plum portfolios. And considering the southern state along with Puducherry has a sizeable 40 seats in the Lok Sabha, all national parties or coalitions have courted them at one time or the other. There have been stories about getting a rare audience with the imperious Jayalalithaa after hours of waiting at her Poes Garden residence and confabulations with the closest aide of Karunanidhi to convey messages from Delhi. So yes, with their passing, there is a political vacuum which their successors may not be able to fill. Despite best intentions. And though both the AIADMK and DMK are looking at national parties, the former aligning with the BJP and the latter with the Congress, to cushion themselves from a great fall, fact is both, in their current denuded state, may for the first time give their national counterparts a confidence to make good in Tamil Nadu on their own. They themselves might just become survivors rather than captains of their destiny. Contrary to the two icons, who have always looked outward as nobody challenged their heavyweight status at home, their parties at this time are looking inward, hoping their alliances will decide their fate in the Assembly elections.
Let’s look at the AIADMK, the giant killer of the 2014 elections, and its tie-up with the BJP, which is not exactly riding a Modi wave this time. But it is the best fertile ground for both to pull each other up, especially now that the BJP has mended fences with its erstwhile ally, the PMK. One doesn’t know whether Jayalalithaa’s posters or videos will have the same effect as her live campaigns but the AIADMK under Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami is clearly fearing a sizeable fall in vote share. Torn by dissension and faction fights, he has safely staked the party’s future in only 25 seats. Besides, the nephew of Jayalalithaa’s aide Sasikala, TTV Dhinakaran, is likely to take a big bite of the AIADMK’s vote pie. Dhinakaran is nowhere trying to appropriate Amma’s aura but away from the alliance photo sessions, he is campaigning in the villages, emerging to be the only leader after her to put Tamil Nadu first and talk about people’s issues. Voters feel Palaniswami has not stood up enough in the Cauvery water dispute or the Sterlite protests. Besides, Dhinakaran has an excellent ground network in southern Tamil Nadu. Of course, the PMK, given its past vote share, could steady the northern votes for the AIADMK-led alliance. But nobody expects a blockbuster performance, though every incremental seat for the BJP could only help in making up a projected deficit in its national tally. Technically, the DMK scion MK Stalin has a slight edge and is following his astute father’s template in stitching up a pact with the Congress. First, the DMK is better off than 2014, when the 2G scam did it in and it fought without allies, its voteshare plummeting in a free fall. Now that Raja and M Kanimozhi are acquitted in the 2G case, the DMK and the Congress are hoping to regain their 2009 vote share of around 44 per cent. Meanwhile, actor Kamal Haasan could emerge vote cutter than the new god. Tamil Nadu seems to be setting an all-new template of hand-holders.
Courtesy & Writer: Editor – The Pioneer