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The verdict in the 2G spectrum allocation cases, acquitting former Telecom minister A Raja, DMK MP K Kanimozhi and all others accused, has come as a huge boost in morale for the DMK, which has faced nearly a decade-long political embarrassment due to corruption charges against its senior leaders, including defeats to the AIADMK in successive Assembly elections.
While the verdict may not have direct implications for the by-election in R K Nagar, even though it came as the constituency of late J Jayalalithaa was voting on Wednesday, it is expected to help DMK working president M K Stalin emerge stronger as the central leader in the next state elections, likely to take place before 2019 Lok Sabha polls since the AIADMK government is short of majority. And even as the NDA on Wednesday kept up its slugfest with the Congress on the issue of corruption, a senior DMK leader scotched reports that the party is moving closer to the BJP.
The verdict is also expected to take the wind out of the sails of actors such as Rajinikanth, Kamal Haasan and Vishal, who are said to be eyeing a political future by capitalising on charges of corruption against leaders of both main parties in Tamil Nadu.
Many observers see Stalin and sidelined AIADMK leader T T V Dinakaran emerging as the main players in Tamil Nadu politics on December 24, the day RK Nagar results are declared. Both are influential, promising, have charisma, and carry a certain warmth in interaction, and are expected to be the main force against the ruling AIADMK, even if they keep distance politically.
On his part, Dinakaran on Wednesday said he is happy with the verdict. “Personally I am happy. I know Raja as a minister from Tamil Nadu when I was an MP,” he told reporters.
The next Assembly polls may be necessitated anytime, as the AIADMK government’s majority remain a question, and it may be a matter of time for the government to face a floor test after the disposal of pending cases in Madras High Court regarding the test and disqualification of AIADMK’s rebel MLAs.
The government’s, and the BJP’s, continuing assertion today that the process used by the UPA to allocate spectrum was “faulty” and involved “corruption”, will also not be music to the DMK leadership’s ears. The BJP camp was recently abuzz with speculation that the DMK may ditch its alliance with the Congress and join the saffron camp after Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited an ailing DMK patriarch Karunanidhi in early November. But Stalin had immediately dismissed those reports and announced state-wide agitations against demonetisation.
In Delhi, reacting to the verdict, Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha today said, “One thing is clear: the 2G spectrum allotment process was faulty and dipped in corruption.” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, meanwhile, cited details of the allocation policy of the UPA government and the Supreme Court’s February 2012 decision to quash allocations, and said it was a corrupt and dishonest policy, intended to promote corruption.
Soon after the verdict, a top DMK leader close to Stalin pointed out that the court judgment has nothing to do with the BJP. “It is a good news for Thalapathi (or ‘commander’, as Stalin is called by party cadres) and bad news for EPS (CM Palaniswami), OPS (deputy CM Panneerselvam) and their mentors in Delhi,” the DMK leader said, referring to the BJP-led Central government.
Asked whether the party may team up with the BJP for the next elections, he said that for argument’s sake even if “suppose Stalin and a few of us ally with BJP, our cadres will not (be enthused) — their basic sentiments and ideology are built on an anti-BJP narrative.” Mentioning remarks by party leaders during a recent meeting at DMK headquarters following the Gujarat election results, the leader said, “The BJP may benefit if we align with them but when BJP’s vote base in Tamil Nadu is smaller than that of Congress, why should we ditch the Congress? Besides, we have already seen the Gujarat results, the changing trends in the northern states against the BJP, and the fact that it (public mood) is becoming more in favour of the Congress.
Also, he added, the BJP has “already strengthened our cause by splitting the AIADMK”.
According to the DMK leader, the 2G verdict has strengthened morale of party cadres and sympathisers, and for now has inadvertently shut the doors on the political future of actors Kamal Haasan, Rajinikanth and Vishal, who were looking at capitalising the larger anti-incumbency trends and corruption.