When responding to news that the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) had broken with the DMK to align with the AIADMK for the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections in Tamil Nadu,Manmohan Singh replied it was no reflection on the UPA. Really,Prime Minister? Since 1998,the PMK has been a member of every Central government first as part of the NDA with Jayalalithaa,in 1999 as part of the NDA with Karunanidhi,and since 2004 as part of the UPA with Karunanidhi. Its partners may have changed,but the PMKs grip on power has not. Could the PMKs latest move mean that the Ramadosses know something the prime minister doesnt?
But seriously. The PMKs Vanniyar vote base is concentrated in northern Tamil Nadu,where the PMK won six seats (including one in Puducherry) in 2004. But the PMKs power cant be measured in seats alone: it has a 7 per cent vote share in most Tamil Nadu constituencies. In a state famous for lopsided verdicts,this vote share can make the difference between 39-0 and 0-39. Since 1991,no Central government has been formed without the support of the winning combination in Tamil Nadu. With Vaikos MDMK also switching to Amma and actor-politician Vijaykanth choosing to go it virtually alone,the canvass is more difficult to read than it has been for many elections.
Anbumani Ramadoss may or may not get a shot to be part of the Union cabinet come the month of May. And you have to wonder,will the health ministry ever be as rivetting? Whether it was his hand-to-hand combat with AIIMSs Venugopal,a vendetta that drew the UPA government into embarrassing moments in court,or his outspoken views on smoking,alcohol and homosexuality,it was never dull.