The alliances in Tamilnadu: A game changer for 2019 elections ?

The alliances in Tamilnadu: A game changer for 2019 elections ?

Glimpses from the past – Tamil Nadu

          The modern state of Tamil Nadu has emerged from the Madras Presidency of the British Administration. Since the last fifty years, the politics of Tamil Nadu has been predominantly under the control of Dravidian parties. The dominance of DMK (Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam) and AIADMK (All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam) with political stalwarts such as E.V Ramaswamy Naicker (Periyar / The Great Sage), C. N Annadurai, M.G Ramachandran (MGR), Kamaraj, M. Karunanidhi, C. Rajagoplachari, Jayalalithaa have donned the limelight in the Political arena of Tamil Nadu for many years.

         The history and Politics in Tamil Nadu cannot be taken lightly. One can trace the emergence of the DMK in the fifties as a party which led an anti-caste, anti-brahmin, regional and secessionist movement. One can also look back and reflect that the Dravida Kazhagam (Federation) split in 1949 into the DMK. In contrast to the Naicker movement and Justice Party’s objectives, the DMK under Annadurai had also taken a pro-nationalist and anti-imperial stand. Raising the issue of Dravidas, the DMK for the next fifty years took on a number of issues, and lead movements in the country for the causes of Tamilians and Dravidians.

       In 1972, with the DMK’s split and AIADMK being formed under M.G Ramachandran, found the DMK split into several smaller parties. The alliances of the DMK with various parties since the 1950s, till its split in 1972 had also formed a mass appeal and social base among the people of Tamil Nadu. The predominance of DMK and AIADMK in the politics of Tamil Nadu since the early nineties was clearly conspicuous. After the death of the two great leaders Jayalalitha and Karunanidhi, of DMK and AIADMK saw the warring conflicts within their respective parties, creating a new storm in Tamil Nadu’s political space.

 The alliances:  Game ahead for 2019 elections-

             With the 2019 general elections approaching, the Legislative Assembly elections for the states of Odisha, Sikkim, Jammu & Kashmir, Andhra Pradesh and Arunachal Pradesh are likely to be held along with the general elections simultaneously. However, if one needs to see a paradigm shift in the election process after the coming general elections in any other state, the cards will be bet on Tamil Nadu. As the biggest Southern state, this is the first election after the demise of two tall leaders-J Jayalalitha and M Karunanidhi, who held the political fort of Tamil Nadu for decades.

           If one analyses the DMK and the AIADMK with their respective alliances on the national front with national parties like the BJP and Congress, the results are still sketchy. The conflict within the AIADMK, and turmoil within the DMK has also brought new alliances calling in the national parties to the doorstep of Tamil Nadu. The AIADMK forming an alliance with the BJP and PMK (Pattali Makkal Katchi) seems to have fallen in line with the BJP’s narrative for 2019. This alliance has a strategy in consolidating the Hindu vote after the legacy of Amma by winning 21 Assembly seats, which will also go for polls along with the rest of the 39 Parliamentary constituencies. All of this would depend on the seat-sharing outcomes between the BJP, AIADMK and PMK. However, one has to note that this alliance does have differences, and many critics sight this as opportunism by AIADMK.

           The DMK, on the other hand, was always viewed with suspicion by the Congress due to its sympathy for the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam), responsible for the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. However, in politics, there are no permanent enemies and permanent friends! Today, Congress views this alliance on the basis of secularism to the prescribed objectives of elections and governance. The DMK does have a formidable front with MDMK (Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam), VCK (Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi), the CPI (Communist Party of India) and the CPM (The communist party of India (Marxist)). The IUML, IJK and the KMDK has managed to secure a Lok Sabha seat each in this alliance. The DMK has also worked out a common minimum program but the seat sharing with the Congress, compared to the 2016 Assembly polls as with the present Parliamentary polls of 2019 (agreement of 10 seats, one seat even in Puducherry) has mixed reactions from many corridors.

The Challenges Ahead-

         With alliances being planned, there are many challenges ahead for both the DMK & AIADMK. After Jayalalitha’s death, there has been a split in the party, which has left AIADMK with no option other than the BJP. This also shows that if AIADMK wins, the BJP will have an upper hand in Tamil Nadu. The issue of bargaining with the BJP has always been tough for regional parties as the ruling party does have an upper hand in the Centre. The BJP had also noticed the conflict between Palaniswami and Paneerselvam and was quick to seize in on the opportunity. The defection by TTV Dinakaran who set up his own party AMMK (Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam) against the AIADMK, is also another challenge to be dealt with, by the AIADMK.

        On the other hand, the DMK has forged alliances with many like-minded parties putting their differences of the past, aside! However, the DMK can also do well if it has an alliance with the DMDK. The grassroots cadres working with the communists can also turn the table around to a large extent. The anti-incumbency wave both at the Centre and state poses a tough situation for the BJP-AIADMK combine. This sentiment is very strong in Tamil Nadu due to various reasons- The Cauvery water dispute wherein the verdict was in favour of Karnataka, the NEET controversy, the bad handling of the situation of relief work during major calamities like Cyclone Ockhi and Cyclone Gaja, the farmers suicide and many other issues that have not been very forthcoming. One can only wait and watch, how the mood of the voter could possibly change the fate of electoral politics, not just in Tamil Nadu but also other states in India.


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