Four days after the AIADMK announced Edappadi K Palaniswami as the Chief Ministerial candidate and formed an 11-member steering committee and other panels for the 2021 Assembly polls, the main opposition DMK on Sunday announced an eight-member committee to prepare the poll manifesto for the upcoming elections.
DMK treasurer T R Baalu, senior MPs A Raja, TKS Elangovan, Trichy N Siva and Kanimozhi, and the party’s deputy general secretaries Subbulakshmi Jagadeesan, Anthiyur Selvaraj and professor A Ramaswamy are part of the panel, according to a statement by DMK general Secretary Duraimurgan.
While the AIADMK-led alliance, including the BJP, PMK and DMDK of Captain Vijayakanth, estimates the elections to be a tough challenge, the DMK’s poll journey is likely to be tougher if the Dravidian major wants to retain its allies — questions have emerged about the symbol used by the opposition alliance. The issue of the symbol has become a concern for alliance partners following reports that Prashanth Kishore, the DMK’s brand strategist, had told M K Stalin to retain maximum number of seats with the DMK or under DMK’s symbol during seat-sharing talks with allies.
The MDMK of Vaiko, one of the most popular Tamil nationalist leaders in the DMK alliance, said the party will not contest on the DMK symbol but an independent one this time. In the last Lok Sabha polls, not only MDMK, but the prominent Dalit party VCK too had to contest on the DMK’s rising sun symbol as insisted by the Dravidian major.
Do or die situation for DMK
VCK leader Thirumavalavan also asserted that his party candidates would contest all the upcoming elections on an independent symbol like they used to do as part of the DMK alliance since 2001.
While a third front led by Vaiko, Left and Dalit parties led to the defeat of main opposition DMK for the second time in the May 2016 Assembly polls, the DMK alliance was still able to win 98 seats against 136 of AIADMK, whose victory was favoured by the splitting of opposition votes.
A senior DMK leader said there are concerns about retaining allies such as Vaiko, VCK and smaller parties for two reasons — a third front or Sasikala’s return to the AIADMK fold. “If Sasikala makes a comeback and unites with AIADMK, that will improve their position. Even if Sasikala succeeds to form a third front like in 2016, we will be facing a setback as it would split the anti-government votes,” he said.
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