Updated: January 23, 2018 5:59:11 pm
In Tamil Nadu politics, in the run up to the assembly polls what has spoiled the crucial strategies of smaller parties and seems to be swinging the election arithmetics in favour of the Dravidian majors (DMK, AIADMK) are how ‘sleeper’ like cells burrowed inside the smaller parties, revolt, change sides at the insistence of the Dravidian majors.
When their ‘real’ leaders press the button, they have acted swiftly in response. A major defection that shook political circles recently was when 10 of Captain Vijayakanth’s leading colleagues in the party, including three MLAs and Vijayakanth loyalist V C Chandrakumar, left the party after the Captain refused to strike an alliance with the DMK.
They have now floated a new party, Makkal DMDK, and got three seats in the DMK alliance.
Chandrakumar, used to accompany Vijayakanth during his trips like a trusted aide. He held the top organisational role in the party. Two days before he triggered a mutiny, he was with Vijayakanth’s wife Premalatha in Erode for her first round of campaigning.
The next day, Chandrakumar announced his decision to challenge Vijayakanth’s alliance with the Third Front, giving him an ultimatum to join the DMK or else. After his mutiny, smaller parties’ leaders including Vaiko blamed DMK chief M Karunanidhi for being behind Chandrakumar’s move. Vaiko, the senior leader of Third Front alleged that the DMK had pumped in huge amounts of money to buy Vijayakanth’s leaders.
Chandrakumar’s was the most interesting defection drama so far; no one had imagined that he would rebel against his beloved Captain.
S Ramadoss’s PMK has also lost one MLA, M Kalaiarasan who represented Anaicut constituency and left to join the AIADMK. Smaller parties with just two MLAs have lost MLAs: A Ramasamy, one of the two MLAs of Dalit party Puthiya Tamizhagam of Dr Krishnasamy, left the party for the AIADMK and one of the two MLAs of actor Sarathkumar’s All India Samathuva Makkal Katchi, also followed suit. CPI MLA Ponnupandi who joined AIADMK at Jayalalithaa’s first campaign rally may be the latest in that list.
After Sarthkumar lost one MLA, he quit the AIADMK alliance to join the BJP. But that did not work out so he is now back in the AIADMK camp, contesting the election under the AIADMK symbol.
The latest split in G K Vasan’s TMC was also reportedly for the same reason: a demand from the AIADMK to contest under its banner. As he knew that striking an alliance with a Dravidian major and leaving his leaders to contest under the AIADMK symbol would endanger his future, he refused to go with the AIADMK and joined the Vijayakanth-PWF alliance. But as in the DMDK, this triggered a silent mutiny within his party — the message from his leaders was “either AIADMK or DMK” for an alliance as they did not want to be in the opposition. Vasan did not oblige, he joined the Third Front and lost his finest and most popular leader, Peter Alphonse who holds a sizeable vote share in southern Tamil Nadu. Alphonese has returned to the Congress, now a DMK ally.
The lesson for smaller parties has been clear: either surrender or be sabotaged by the two Dravidian majors. This is not a new phenomenon.
During the 1971 Lok Sabha elections, the DMK had fought few seats allowing the Congress to contest more. However, in the subsequent assembly elections that year, they refused to give the Congress any seats and the grand old party was gradually wiped out of the state.
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