Dhinakaran threatens to form government in Tamil Nadu in three months time.
BJP expected to back cine star Rajnikanth’s political party on December 31.
The stunning and shocking win of rebel AIADMK candidate TTV Dhinakaran contesting as an independent in the R K Nagar bye-election in Chennai adds a new twist to the complex political environment in Tamil Nadu following the death of party supremo and chief minister J Jayalalithaa in December last year.
It is widely being interpreted as an anti-BJP vote which has been reportedly backseat driving the government in Chennai in a bid to make its presence felt in this important southern state which has 39 seats in the Lok Sabha.
The outcome in the R K Nagar bye poll has the portends of queering the pitch for the ruling party leading to a fresh spell of political instability in the troubled state. Dhinakaran not only won by an impressive margin of 40,000 odd votes over his nearest AIADMK rival E Madhusudhanan but dealt a knockout blow to the DMK candidate Marudu Ganesh who lost his deposit.
Winning or losing this seat should not make any difference to the DMK. However, what cannot be lost sight of is that the voters of this constituency have sought to infuse a fresh round of political oneupmanship between Dhinakaran, nephew of Amma’s one time confident Sasikala who is in jail, and the AIADMK where the two factions headed by chief minister E Palaniswamy and deputy chief minister O Paneerselvam respectively have come together in the larger context of occupying the seat of power at Fort St George in the state capital.
An elated Dhinakaran claimed he will assume power in Tamil Nadu in three months time with a renewed bout of bluster rather than being realistic about the complex ground realities. The DMK has suffered considerable erosion in its vote share but is holding its horses in the event of a snap poll in the state in the short to medium term.
Dhinakaran’s shock victory can lead to confusion in the ranks of the AIADMK. Many of the legislators and MPs in the ruling faction of the AIADMK owe their allegiance to Dhinakaran and the Sasikala family. They, however, chose to back Palaniswamy and Paneerselvam as they did not want a mid-term poll.
Be that as it may, Dhinakaran feels in the wake of his electoral victory, many of the legislators may now view the Sasikala factor as a force that can keep the party together and command wider voter support.
Despite having won the battle for the party name and symbol, the fight for political legitimacy is far from over. The question is can the Dhinakaran faction attain a critical mass for the legislators of the ruling camp to resort to desertions on a large scale. This needs to be watched closely in the weeks and months ahead. The ruling faction of the AIADMK has spent far too much time on dousing the internal fires in the party rather than overseeing the critical aspect of governance.
As a measure of abundant precaution the ruling party wasted no time in expelling at least five pro-Dhinakaran functionaries and relieved four more supporters of their position as district secretaries.
Meanwhile, the BJP is keen on knitting alliances in Tamil Nadu with an eye on the 2019 general elections followed by the assembly poll two years later in 2021. They have sought to build bridges with Prime Minister Narendra Modi calling on DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi recently in Chennai.
Now they seem keen on hitching their bandwagon with mega Tamil star Rajnikanth who is expected to reveal his political plans on the eve of the New Year or December 31.
The Lotus party will back Rajnikanth’s entry in politics hoping to improve its prospects of making an impact in Tamil Nadu. The discriminating in the state feel Rajnikanth’s popularity is on the wane compared to those younger than him.
Rajnikanth is also being closely watched by the DMK as any such new venture in Tamil Nadu politics could pose a challenge to DMK’s heir apparent M K Stalin and his efforts to form the next government in Chennai.
(Views are personal)