Edappadi Palanisamy, has proved political pundits wrong that he is an accidental Chief Minister and a novice in politics. He has proved that he is a savvy politician by stitching together an alliance well ahead of his principal opposition DMK. While the DMK was with its alliance partners for well over a year, they could not announce the seat sharing arrangements with Congress.
On Tuesday, Chief Minister Edappadi Palanisamy, along with O.Panneerselvam and other party leaders sealed the deal in Chennai’s Crown Plaza hotel. PMK has been allotted 7 seats in Lok Sabha and a Rajya Sabha seat. In turn, the PMK will offer full support to ADMK in the forthcoming by-polls for 21 assembly constituencies. Apart from the official announcement, a sum of Rs.500 crores has been promised to PMK. This was one of the major glitch which acted as a hurdle between PMK and DMK add sources. The DMK which has lost 3 consecutive elections is in a cash crunch and would definitely not in a position to match the money power of ADMK and BJP.
Sources also add that junior Ramadoss Anbumani was not happy in going with BJP. Anbumani had been very upset that in spite of winning, he was not offered a ministerial berth in the NDA government. During the announcement today, Anbumani looked very glum.
The PMK, known for its opportunity all along, kept both the Dravidian parties in tenderhooks without disclosing their decision. Anbumani Ramadoss and GK.Mani of the PMK were in talks with both DMK & ADMK till the last moment. Till the final announcement was made, DMK leadership was very keen to stitch together an alliance with PMK. The offer to PMK included ditching Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi, a dalit outfit.
The PMK, perceived to have the support of majority Vanniyars is known for switching alliances to both the Dravidian parties in every election. Both the late leaders Karunanidhi and Jayalalitha, though had taken the support of PMK in elections, had always ensured that their candidates lost the elections. In 2009 lok sabha polls, PMK contested in 7 seats and lost all the seats. However, the party polled around 5 percent in the 2016 assembly elections.
With developments happening every minute, the ADMK-BJP alliance would have Indhiya Jananayaka Katchi of Pachamuthu, Makkal Needhi Katchi of AC.Shanmugam, Puthiya Tamilagam, and GK Vasan’s Tamil Manila Congress. With these allies, the ADMK BJP combine has an edge in north Tamil Nadu and also in the Western Zone which is a stronghold of ADMK.
This alliance looks formidable in paper. But, whether this will gel in the ground remains to be seen. Even during the previous lok sabha polls, in spite of the Modi wave, the PMK which contested in the BJP alliance could win a solitary seat. Modi wave did not work in Tamil Nadu and Jayalalitha going it alone managed to win 37 seats. BJP was even unpopular in this state in 2014 and its prospects have not increased. In fact, the vote bank of BJP could have come down after four and a half years due to the growing unpopularity of Modi and the arrogant statements of TN BJP leaders.
Senior journalist RK.Radhakrishnan, echoed the views of this author. He said, “ADMK-BJP-PMK combine may look formidable in paper. But, we have to see how much votes are taken away by the rival faction run by TTV.Dinakaran. With BJP polling a mere 3 percent in the assembly elections, the projection of this combine as a ‘mega alliance’ is a myth, says Radhakrishnan. He also added compared to this alliance, the Congress-DMK and the left combine looks more solid.
He also disagreed with the view that money is going to be a key factor in deciding the elections. “While the ruling party managed to pay 6000 rupees per vote in the RK nagar by-election, the other party which paid far less managed to win. If Jayalalitha was alive its altogether a different scenario. In the absence of Jayalalitha, we have to view this election in a different perspective” He categorically asserted that money will not be a deciding factor, as people would receive money and vote on their choice.”
The ADMK-BJP combine has to overcome the unpopularity and anti-incumbency of both the Modi government and ADMK government. Sources in both the parties indicate, that both outfits are pinning their hope on paying the voters to secure votes. It is precisely for this reason, education barons AC.Shanmugam and Pachamuthu are allotted with seats, with a promise that they will take care of the expenses for BJP candidates.
Whether the must sought after PMK commands the old clout it used to command in previous elections also remain to be seen. An officer from intelligence wing, who had been looking after PMK for a long time says, the naming of the law college in his wife’s name by Dr.Ramadoss has upset many in the community. The college was constructed with the money collected from vanniyars. Apart from this, the alleged mistreatment of a vociferous Vanniyar leader and president of Vanniyar Sangam, Kaduvetti Guru has also upset many in the community. Kaduvetti Guru had many followers among vanniyar youth. Kaduvetti Gurus family had has alleged that the Ramadoss family has failed to support Guru during his treatment. There are also legal issues with Kaduvetti Guru family in managing the Vanniyar trust in which crores of rupees lie. The family also alleges that Ramadoss family are threatening them to leave the trust.
Senior journalist Lakshmi Subramaniam pointed out a crucial factor about the predicament of PMK. “For PMK which stood against the ruling ADMK in the Salem 8 lane expressway project there can’t be any big embarrassment than campaigning in the Salem, Dharmapuri, Thiruvallur, Kanchipuram region. Retaining the existing lone seat in Dharmapuri might be a challenge for PMK”. Both the senior and junior Ramadosses were vocal critics of the ruling dispensation. Senior Ramadoss was very vehement in his critic against the Edappadi Palanisamy’s pet project of Salem 8 lane. He issued various statements against the project. Anbumani Ramadoss even conducted grievance meetings in the affected areas which was prevented by the Edappadi Palanisamy government, which he was very eager to push through. Apart from this project, Anbumani Ramadoss has in the past, called the Chief Minister and his cabinet fools. Senior Ramadoss, had been regularly criticizing ADMK government’s policies through his statements and tweets. Social media was flooded with hundreds of memes making fun of the father and son duo. Videos of father and son ridiculing the ADMK government and claiming that there will never be an alliance are surfacing in social media and whatsapp. Though the reactions in social media have to be taken with a pinch of salt, the mood cannot be ignored altogether. PMK cadres who use to be abusive to anyone who criticize both the Ramadosses in social media were conspicuously silent to these memes and videos.
A Delhi based journalist had this to say on this alliance “Tamil Nadu has witnessed several alliances in the past. When alliances are formed there is euphoria among party workers, alliances are forged taking into account the sentiments of party workers. The push to join an alliance or form an alliance comes from the grass root level.
History also shows how alliances that have been forged due to the strong arm politics of bigger parties have not worked in Tamil Nadu.
For instance take the AIADMK-Congress alliance in 1996. The alliance was decided by the leaders sitting in Delhi and this fiasco resulted in GK Moopanar launching TMC. The Congress workers were just not ready for an alliance with the AIADMK at that moment. The end result was rout of AIADMK.
Similarly, after the 2G spectrum scandal the Congress used CBI to threaten DMK. On one floor, raids were being conducted at Kalaignar TV office and on the other floor Congress leaders were holding seat sharing talks with DMK at their party HQ. The Congress managed to arm twist DMK and got a lion’s share of 63 seats. Never before in history has Congress got these many seats from DMK or AIADMK. Ramadoss played hardball and got 30 seats, despite criticising the DMK on a daily basis.
The scams and lack of coordination between the party workers at the grass root level ensured DMKs defeat, that too a humiliating one. DMK lost the principal opposition post in the Tamil Nadu assembly which went to Vijayakanth’s DMDK.
Now the situation is totally different. Tamil Nadu is facing its first big election after the demise of Jayalalitha and Karunanidhi. People are aware of what has been happening in Tamil Nadu for the past one year and how BJP has literally hijacked AIADMK and Tamil Nadu Government. BJP is facing huge anti-incumbency in the state not because of ignoring Tamil Nadu in its projects & schemes. But because of their attempts to hijack AIADMK and install a puppet government of the BJP, paving way for corruption and scams. Unnecessary interference in the workings of the government and the crazy behaviour of leaders like H Raja and Tamilisai. The frequent interference of Governor in the administration has also not been taken well by TN people.
There is massive resentment against the BJP among the people for dictating terms to AIADMK leaders and forcing AIADMK to surrender by using central agencies. In this backdrop, now the BJP has forced AIADMK to enter into an alliance despite top leaders and party workers opposing it. It’s clearly visible from the reactions of the AIADMK leaders and ministers that they are helpless and they have no other option but to dance to the tunes of the Modi and Co.
More than DMK it was PMK leader Dr Ramadoss who was instrumental in creating an anti-BJP mood in the state over various issues. Ramadoss constant criticism against the AIADMK government and its corrupt activities and Anbumani Ramadoss ground work in the norther districts had set the mood for the party workers and voters.
Now this unexpected U-turn by the PMK has only made people angry and PMK is being seen as an opportunist and more over joining hands with BJP against whom the PMK has been waging a war over Cauvery issue, NEET, Methane, 8 lane expressway, corruption and other issues has only angered their own party workers.”
As the journalist has pointed out, Dr.Ramadoss and Anbumani took a strong anti-BJP stand in several incidences concerning the rights of Tamil Nadu. The PMK cadres who reveled in the statements of their leaders criticizing the central and state governments would find it tough to campaign for the combine.
Dark horse to watch out for in this election is TTV.Dinakaran. He was very clear that there may not be any takers to enter into an alliance and he may be left alone. Sources in TTV’s party indicate that his target is to concentrate in a few constituencies where there is a chance of winning and ensure maximum damage to ADMK-BJP in the remaining constituencies. It’s a do or die battle for him as he has to prove that the ADMK cadres are with him. He also needs to get sizeable number of votes to ensure recognition by Election Commission.
The Delhi journalist added, “BJP has forced this alliance on AIADMK and if BJP gets more than 15 seats it’s going to be a disaster. This will create internal fights as too many party workers are aspiring to become MP’S, party leaders personal interests comes first than the party in many areas. The morale of the AIADMK party worker is at an all time low and infighting is at its peak in the party. Party leaders are speaking in a different voices everywhere. Above all there is no leader to unify the party workers and there is no binding factor for AIADMK, PMK, DMDK party workers to come together on a single platform to work on ground. Jaya hates DMDK and AIADMK party workers won’t forgive Vijayakanth for biting his tongue and threatening Jaya in the assembly. PMK workers and AIADMK party workers have an uneasy relationship in the northern regions of Tamil Nadu.
This will only go to show that the AIADMK is weak and they can’t stand up against anyone and anything, leave alone the rights of the state. AIADMK is at its weakest position and PMK joining hands has just made it worse. As far as Tamil Nadu is concerned AIADMK and BJP alliance is a sinking ship and PMK has just signed up for a suicide pact.
The state is looking out for a leader and the one who shows leadership skills will emerge victorious in this election. Stalin has not done anything to win the confidence of the people and he has missed too many too many opportunities in the past one year.
In short, Stalin has failed to instill confidence among the people of the state and his own party workers. The ground situation favours the DMK, but at the same time If the DMK is complacent then like 2016 they will miss the bus this time too” added the journalist who doesn’t want to be named.
The DMK alliance’s prospects heavily depend on the performance of TTV.Dinakaran who is bent upon to mar the chances of ADMK. He banks on the disgruntle among ADMK cadres in the absence of a strong leadership. Though ADMK Ministers and MLAs are making good money, the bottom level cadre feel orphaned which is banked upon by TTV. His meetings attract huge crowds and his ground level work is meticulous. A source in TTV party said that TTV Dinakaran strongly believes that there will be a shift in the voting pattern of ADMK cadres. TTV has managed to form booth committees in all constituencies in the state and each booth committee consists of 33 members. As of December 2018, TTV’s AMMK has 80 lakh members with phone numbers and Voters ID details of all the members. Based on this a data base has been created and the party high command can reach out to all members simultaneously both through SMS and WhatsApp added the source.
TTV Dinakaran is the dark horse in this election and is vote drawing capabilities will decide the future of DMK.
After the demise of both Karunanidhi and Jayalalitha, 2019 Lok Sabha Polls is the major election the state is about to face. The performance of the political parties in this election will decide both their future and future of the state.