Which of the Dravidian parties will rule Tamil Nadu when the state goes to polls on May 16 for the 234-member Assembly? The election which will witness a high decibel battle, will essentially be between the two powerful Dravidian duos, the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and the Opposition Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK). Will AIADMK supremo and Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa return to power and script a history in Tamil Nadu or will the people vote for the DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi at the ballot royale is the question on every mind. Tamil Nadu has been two party state ever since the DMK came to power in 1967 and elections have been about these two powerful parties.
With the actor-turned- politician Vijayakanthâ€™s announcement on March 10 that his party Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK) would go alone in the May 16 Tamil Nadu polls, the entire equation has changed in the state. The current situation is that six smaller outfits which have traditionally been allies by alternating between AIADMK and DMK have chosen to stay clear and fight on their own. At the moment, a multi-cornered contest appears to at the moment among AIADMK, DMK-Congress combine, BJP, People’s Welfare Front comprising CPI (M), CPI, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi and Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK). The logical question that emerges is who would reap the benefit of such a multi-cornered contest? In a shot to the AIADMK, seven outfits including the existing allies of Jayalalithaa on March 13 extended their support to the ruling party.
Kongu Laignar Peravai, Tamizhaga Vazhurimai Katchi, Tamil Maanila Muslim League, Indian Thoueed Jamaath and Samathuva Makkal Kazgagam reaffirmed their support to Jayalalithaa. According to poll pundits, AIADMK has a slight edge at this year’s elections because of its higher percentage of vote share in the last assembly polls with the party securing over 41 per cent while DMK a little over 22 percent votes. In the 2011 assembly elections, AIADMK bagged 150 of the 234 seats and the DMK only 23 seats. The AIADMK had won in 1977, 1980 and 1984. After M.G. Ramachandran’s death in 1987, no political parties has won two consecutive terms in the state. Alliances have also been crucial in Tamil Nadu politics. The DMK in February cobbled up an alliance with the Congress, reviving a partnership three years after they parted ways in 2013 protesting UPA government’s stand on the Sri Lankan human rights issue at the United Nations.
The party was part of the UPA for nine years. In order to boost its morale after it suffered a major bolt during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls–where DMK drew a blank– the party has also patched up an alliance with minor players to take on its rival Jayalalithaa. But the DMK has been plagued by infighting and accused by many party members of trying to promote nepotism and start a political dynasty. The DMK leaders are also critical of the rise of M K Stalin and Karunanidhi has been criticised for allowing his other son Azhagiri to function as an extra constitutional authority in Mudurai. Anger is simmering among the Tamil Nadu people over the AIADMK-led government’s apathy towards revamping the economic performance and the way the administration poorly organised relief and rehabilitations during the December floods in Chennai, Kanchipuram, Cuddalore, Tuticorin and Thiruvallur, which killed over 400 people and displaced thousands.
The burgeoning problems of liquor, what was once considered as an â€œignominyâ€ among the populace has also been a source of many ills with the middle class people in the state. The DMK will cash on these issues during the campaign. Jayalalithaa will be looking to hold on the power in the state while Karunanidhi will desperately try to stage a comeback after his party’s defeat at the last assembly elections and poor showing in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. The election is especially important for DMK as its leader is seen to be readying for a generational change to hand over the affairs of the party to Stalin. Of course, there is no similar change in the case of AIADMK with Jayalalitha going strong despite corruption charges in the court. Jayalalithaa was acquitted by the Karnataka High Court in the disproportionate assets case on May 11, 2015 and she was subsequently disqualified as the Chief Minister. She was on May 23 last year re-instated as the Chief Minister after her acquittal.
The arithmetic will decide who will retain the Fort Saint George (the seat of power in Tamil Nadu).“