Updated: February 27, 2021 7:42:16 am
With Tamil Nadu set to go to polls on April 6, the two main parties in the state find themselves in a do-or-die situation.
For the ruling AIADMK, the coming polls are all about their future – a failure to win could result in the possible hijack of the party by ousted leader V K Sasikala. For the DMK, on the other hand, a loss in this election could mean political wilderness – the party has already been in the opposition for the past decade.
The polls also are a test for a new generation of leaders — Edappadi K Palaniswami (66) and M K Stalin (67) — who are leading their parties into an Assembly election for the first time, while dealing with simmering displeasures within their own ranks.
In the 2016 Assembly polls, the AIADMK with J Jayalalithaa at the helm was voted back to power, with a third front led by the Left and Dalit parties splitting the anti-incumbency votes and spoiling the chances for the DMK.
However, this time around, in the absence of conventional political issues, AIADMK and DMK are left with limited targets to attack each other.
While AIADMK leaders are repeatedly raising the issue of DMK’s “mafia raj” from their previous regime, besides the 2G case and the family dynasty of the Karunanidhi family, the DMK is left with issues such as the AIADMK alliance with BJP and several corruption charges against AIADMK ministers, especially in tenders and government appointments.
Irrespective of all these issues, Ramu Manivannan, who teaches political science in the University of Madras, said that what matters to Tami Nadu politics is how far the BJP surge would happen when they are in the alliance of a powerful ruling party like AIADMK.
However, the DMK continues to have an edge ahead of the election, thanks to its alliance – Stalin has joined hands with the Congress, Left parties, Dalit party VCK, Vaiko’s MDMK and several smaller outfits representing powerful communities from the western and southern regions of Tamil Nadu.
The opposition hopes that the AIADMK alliance with the BJP also will help the DMK win the support of Dravidian voters and the minority communities.
And the ruling dispensation has yet another disadvantage — the Sasikala faction has considerable influence in the Delta and southern districts.
However, Palaniswami has a good reputation in Tamil Nadu, and is considered a chief minister who has taken efforts to deliver as much as he could with an efficient bureaucracy. Besides offering a number of schemes and sops during the Covid-19 lockdown period and ahead of polls, many would note the fact that Palaniswami extensively travelled across the state during his tenure, unlike CMs over the past three or four decades.
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