Challenging times for AIADMK. Photo:PTI
Challenging times for AIADMK. Photo:PTI

Tamil Nadu after Jaya, Karuna: Lok Sabha polls to influence state’s politics

Biggest challenge for AIADMK is to win bypolls to 18 constituencies. For DMK, LS and local body polls are important

Chennai: From M. Karunanidhi’s death to cyclone Gaja, Tamil Nadu has remained in news, despite that fact there has hardly been any major political development in the state.

The ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) government, which was on the verge of collapsing following the death of party chief and former chief minister J. Jayalalithaa in December 2016, has managed to hold on without its leader.

The long-awaited Madras high court verdict in October on the disqualification of 18 MLAs who showed allegiance to T.T.V. Dhinakaran came as a temporary relief to chief minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami. The biggest challenge that awaits the AIADMK, however, is winning the bypolls to these 18 constituencies, besides the two more seats that fell vacant after Karunanidhi’s and AIADMK legislator A.K. Bose’s death.

The general elections, the byelections for 20 seats and local body polls will also be a test for the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK )under M.K. Stalin.

Even as 2018 began with the arrival of big-screen stars Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth announcing their entry into Tamil Nadu politics, there hasn’t been any significant progress. While Rajinikanth is yet to launch his party, Haasan recently confirmed that his Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) will contest the Lok Sabha polls by forging an alliance with “like-minded parties".

Dhinakaran, who ended 2017 on a high note with a victory as an independent candidate from late Jayalalithaa’s R.K. Nagar constituency and resolved “to retrieve the AIADMK", launched his own party Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK).

AIADMK report card

The government was strongly condemned for its crackdown on dissent. The police firing on protesters at Vedanta’s Sterlite Industries Ltd plant in Thoothukudi, which claimed 13 lives, and the arrest of residents and activists protesting against a highway project between Salem and Chennai, showed the government’s high-handedness.

The AIADMK has also been criticized for its poor handling of relief activities after cyclone Gaja which wrecked havoc in the Cauvery Delta districts last month. The DMK has also alleged corruption against AIADMK ministers, including the chief minister and deputy CM O. Panneerselvam.

In a major embarrassment, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) searched the residences of health minister C. Vijayabaskar and director general of police T.K. Rajendran for their alleged involvement in a multi-crore scam to allow the manufacturing and sale of gutkha, which is banned in the state.

Road ahead

Stalin who has already set the tone for the Lok Sabha polls by proposing Rahul Gandhi’s name as the opposition’s prime ministerial candidate, will be the person to look out for as he carries the biggest responsibility to prove DMK’s strength against a weak AIADMK.

Analysts say the results of the general elections will influence the future of the state’s politics. If parliamentary elections occur before the bypolls, the result will have an impact on both the bypolls and the next assembly elections (in 2021), said N. Sathiya Moorthy, director, Chennai Chapter of the Observer Research Foundation, a think tank. Terming it as a power game between AIADMK and DMK, Moorthy said the general elections will be the semi-finals for the assembly polls, and a very significant event as it will be the first election in the absence of two tall leaders in Karunanidhi and Jayalalithaa.

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