Bengaluru: All eyes will be on the results of the 22 assembly by-polls in Tamil Nadu, which will help determine the fate of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) government that is yet to recover from the death of its popular leader J. Jayalalitha in December, 2016.
Jayalalitha, who retained office by winning 134 of the 234 elected assembly seats in 2016, died the same year, leaving a vacuum that few within the party could fill, plunging the state into a state of uncertainty.
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Since her death, those vying to be seen as her successful political heir, have fought bitter and extremely personal battles, damaging the party and breaking it into at least two factions. One faction led by Edappadi K. Palaniswami, and O.Panneerselvam, while the other led by Jayalalitha’s long time aide, V.K.Sasikala and T.T.V.Dinakaran.
The fight between the two factions leading several of the AIADMK legislators to defect, inviting anti-defection laws and eventual disqualification, warranting by-polls.
The 22 assembly by-poll results will be announced along with the 38 out of the 39 parliamentary seats in the state on Thursday. The elections at Vellore constituency was cancelled after poll regulatory authorities made huge cash recoveries from one of the candidates, meant to be used for distribution among voters.
As it stands, the AIADMK has 113 while it main opposition, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) has 88. The Congress has eight while there are two independents, one speaker and one nominated member in the 235 Tamil Nadu assembly. The results for the 22 vacancies will be known on Thursday and could well end up in a change of regime in the south Indian state.
However, analysts like Sumanth Raman say that the AIADMK government could be protected if the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) retains office at the centre.
The BJP, which has little or no presence in Tamil Nadu, allied with the AIADMK to get a foothold in the state, while the Congress joined hands with the DMK to regain some lost ground.
The DMK believes that it can capitalise on the anti-Modi (Prime Minister Narendra Modi) sentiment in the state. In a recent interview to Mint, Kanimozhi, the DMK parliamentarian had said that the anti-Modi sentiment could help the party win all seats.
The DMK, that is also recovering from the death of its patriarch, M.Karunanidhi in August last year, has kept up the pressure against the AIADMK in the state and BJP at the centre. M.K.Stalin, the DMK’s president is one of the few alliance partners of the Congress who has backed the candidature of Rahul Gandhi for PM.
The BJP, that got just one parliamentary seat in 2014, is hoping that its alliance with the AIADMK will bear fruit and help it gain a strong foothold in southern state.