Advertisement
Monday, Nov 29, 2021
Outlook.com
Outlook.com
Tamil Nadu

The Familiar Family Way

With Karunanidhi declaring that the BJP-AIADMK alliance is basically an Advani-Jaya alliance, it appears that realignment with "Vajpayee's BJP" is possible in a post-poll scenario.

The Familiar Family Way
The Familiar Family Way
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

There was this popular theory that the DMK-BJP alliance, ideologically speaking, was not a "natural" one and that the AIADMK and the BJP were actually made for each other. Today, the BJP is back with its "natural Hindutva ally", and looks like the DMK too has found its "natural dynastic ally" in the Congress.

The stranglehold of the extended family of party president M.Karunanidhi over the DMK is complete after Murasoli Maran’s son Dayanidhi Maran nomination for the Central Chennai Lok Sabha seat. In both the parties, the parivar has the natural right to succession. In the DMK this happens from the district secretary level. If the Congress bears the family burden with the late Moopanar’s son G.K. Vasan at the helm, the DMK wears the burden more forthrightly. Karunanidhi’s son M.K. Stalin has been groomed to inherit the mantle in the state, and now Dayanidhi Maran inherits at the central level. Dayanidhi till recently headed the Sun TV Network’s cable service provider in Chennai, Sumangali Cable Vision.

The DMK might have sewed up a grand alliance of all opposition parties—Congress, PMK, MDMK, Left parties and the IUML—but results do not simply hinge on arithmetic and vote-share data of previous elections. The AIADMK might have a lot going against it—especially anti-incumbency; the resentment felt by government employees whose strike Jayalalitha dealt with, with an iron hand; farmers in southern districts who have had no relief from drought with more rhetoric than water flowing on the Cauvery issue—and yet, the DMK, it is felt, has not driven the kind of hard bargain with allies that Jayalalitha managed ahead of the May 2001 Assembly polls.

The DMK is contesting an all-time low number of seats at 15 of the 40 (including one in Pondicherry), against the AIADMK’s 33. Of this, the DMK is fighting merely three of the 12 parliamentary constituencies in the 10 southern districts where the Mukkulathor community (including Thevars) accounts for a sizeable vote. In southern TN— Karunanidhi’s elder son Azhagiri’s territory—the DMK’s presence over the years has seen a steady decline.

In 1999, the party contested 19 seats and won 12. Of these it fielded six in the south, but won only three. In the 2001 Assembly poll, its southern harvest further dwindled. Contesting 45 of the 70 southern seats, it won a paltry three. Given such a history, the DMK clearly realised that it did not stand to gain much by fielding heavily in the south and gave away most seats there to the Congress and MDMK. Unwittingly, the DMK has acknowledged that its political space has been shrinking.

Even if the DMK-led Democratic Progressive Alliance does well and manages up to 25 seats, the DMK should consider itself lucky if it enters the double-digit mark. There has been considerable resentment within the party over the manner in which Karunanidhi has picked candidates.

Following the party’s Virudhanagar conference, the DMK high command ordered aspirant to deposit the amount meant for electioneering in advance with the party headquarters, failing which their names would not be considered. 308 aspirants applied for the 15 seats. Some district leaders felt that the DMK was basically auctioning seats to the highest bidder.

One such bid probably came from Tiruchendur’s V. Radhika Selvi, the pregnant wife of the ‘Pannayar’ Venkatesan, a mafia leader in Tuticorin district shot dead in September 2003 by the police. "Radhika may not deliver in the electoral battle, but she will deliver a child in another week. She may not even be able to campaign," says an amused DMK leader. Venkatesan was an accused in eight murder cases. His encounter death had angered the Nadar community, and the DMK hopes to influence the Nadar vote by fielding Venkatesan’s wife. In the process, it has denied the ticket to Aladi Aruna, a former law minister. Spited, Aruna is likely to join the BJP.

The AIADMK has equally pandered to caste considerations. It has fielded seven Vanniars to counter the Vanniar-dependent PMK and eight Thevars. Jayalalitha has introduced 29 new faces and has jettisoned nine sitting MPs. To the BJP, the AIADMK has given very little, with Jayalalitha virtually dictating who should contest and who should not. Denied tickets, former BJP union minister S.Thirunavukkarasar and state BJP heavyweight L.Ganesan have been openly resentful. Of the seven seats it is contesting, the BJP stands a chance in two—Nagercoil and Coimbatore—and is likely to lower its state tally from the current four to two. If the elections are free and fair, the BJP-AIADMK combine could win 12 seats.

Interestingly, a DMK-BJP face-off in on only in one constituency (North Chennai). With Karunanidhi declaring that the BJP-AIADMK alliance is basically an Advani-Jaya alliance, it appears that realignment with "Vajpayee’s BJP" is possible in a post-poll scenario. In case the BJP/NDA does return to power and finds that Jayalalitha is causing too much trouble, the DMK, and more so the PMK, will reserve the right to crossover.

Whatever TN’s contribution to the next parliament, this election is likely to deliver one significant message—the state which has always seen single-party rule is headed for a coalition government in 2006. The AIADMK—having alienated every ally of the 2001 poll—is likely to realise after May 2004 that without formidable allies it does not stand to gain much; and the DMK, having already conceded that it is no longer a pan-TN force, will be reconciled to coalition politics.

The two Dalit parties—Pudhiya Tamizhagam and Dalit Panthers—treated as untouchables by the rest, will have to wait till 2006 to prove their importance

Advertisement

Outlook Newsletters

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Read More from Outlook

Omicron In India: Five Steps To Stop Outbreak Of New Covid-19 Variant

Omicron In India: Five Steps To Stop Outbreak Of New Covid-19 Variant

Cases of Omicron, the latest variant of Covid-19, have not yet been reported in India.

Omicron Shows Why Countries Need To Start Sharing Their Vaccines

Omicron Shows Why Countries Need To Start Sharing Their Vaccines

'Despite the repeated warnings of health leaders, our failure to put vaccines into the arms of people in the developing world is now coming back to haunt us', wrote former British PM Gordon Brown.

IND Vs NZ, 1st Test, Live: Ashwin Gets Breakthrough, NZ Need 166

IND Vs NZ, 1st Test, Live: Ashwin Gets Breakthrough, NZ Need 166

Day 5 of the first India vs New Zealand Test is tantalisingly poised. India need nine wickets and New Zealand 280 runs. Follow here live cricket scores and updates of IND vs NZ.

Omicron In India: How New Covid-19 Variant Is Impacting Travel Across States

Omicron In India: How New Covid-19 Variant Is Impacting Travel Across States

India has issued fresh travel restrictions for international travellers coming from 'at risk' nations in the wake of the Omicron outbreak across several countries in the world.

Advertisement