Tamil Nadu, known for its Dravidian monopoly, is now facing a new round of intense fighting between All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) in the absence of its veterans, Jayalalithaa and Karunanidhi respectively. And a new dimension in this election is the aggressive attempt by the BJP to make inroads into the politics of the state.
There are also players like Kamal Haasan’s Makkal Neidi Maam (MNM), TTV Dhinakaran’s Amma Makkal Munetra Kadagam (AMMK) and Seeman’s name Tamilar Katchi (NTK). However, structures other than the leadership of both major parties are likely to occupy a portion of the available space.
In the 2016 assembly elections, Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), six-party Makkal Nala Kutani (People’s Welfare Front), BJP and NTK, which contested on their own, together garnered 15.3% of the votes. Along with VK Sasikala, AMMK leader Mr. Dhinakaran’s aunt and Jayalalithaa’s former aide, to break away from active politics, the three-year-old AMMK, which secured a vote share of 5.25% in the 2019 Lok Sabha election. Got a shock.
Unlike 2016, AIADMK is contesting as a key component of a multi-party coalition. Five years ago, Chief Minister and AIADMK General Secretary Jayalalithaa made it a gamble to go it alone, even though she had allotted a seat to each of the seven parties contesting on her party’s election symbol.
After her death in December 2016, the AIADMK turned to the BJP, with Jayalalithaa maintaining a respectable distance between 2014 and 2016. Two parties participated, including PMK and Desia Murmupuk Dravid Kachi (DMDK) among others. The 2019 Lok Sabha elections met simultaneously and with disastrous results. The coalition could only bring one seat. The “anti-Modi” factor was cited as a major reason for the defeat.
The structure of the AIADMK-led front can now undergo changes, with the ruling party’s DMDK failing to achieve any tangible results. So far, the seat sharing process has been completed only with respect to the PMK, which has been allocated 23 seats. Although the seat sharing arrangement with the BJP has not yet been finalized, the AIADMK is expected to give around 25 seats to the national party, which has in recent months started some programs by its state unit president L Murugan Having gained more visibility. Around Lord Murugan, some sections of the society are regarded as Tamil deities.
There is a serious acceptance among critics of Chief Minister Idapadi Palaniswami that he has used the COVID-19 epidemic to show himself as a competent administrator, even though all the “hard work” has been accomplished by the bureaucracy. Keeping himself as a farmer, he has taken several steps to woo voters in rural areas. The waiver of crop loans, totaling 110 12,110.75 crore taken from cooperatives, was one of the policy announcements made a few weeks before the announcement of election dates.
Despite Mr Palaniswami’s appearances, DMK President MK Stalin is banking on his party’s core vote base, the arithmetic power of the coalition under his leadership and the anti-incumbency against the AIADMK’s 10-year rule. Essentially, these factors played a big role in the 2019 Lok Sabha election when the DMK-led coalition registered a landslide, securing 38 seats with a vote share of around 53.3%.
Mr. Stalin and his colleagues have highlighted the many shortcomings of the Palaniswami government on many areas, including the handling of COVID-19 management. Two tragic incidents in Thoothukudi district over the last few years in which 12 people died in police firing and a father-son duo in custody who were picked up for a lockdown violation; Alleged corruption in several departments, especially in local administration; A sexual abuse incident in Pollachi; And the loss of livelihood opportunities due to the epidemic are some of the issues being flagged by the DMK, who have been accusing the AIADMK of being subordinate to the BJP.
Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s visit to the state should help strengthen the DMK’s support base. The two parties have simultaneously faced three assembly elections (2006, 2011 and 2016). Like the AIADMK, the DMK has not completed the seat-sharing exercise with all its allies, including the Congress, but is hopeful to resolve the issues.
It is also to be seen whether this time there will be a “spoiler”, as Makkal Nala Kutani did for the DMK last time.