The regional major, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), has forged a strong alliance with Congress, Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK), Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPIM), Communist Party of India (CPI), Viduthalai Chiruthaikal Katchi (VCK), Kongunadu Desiya Makkal Katchi (KDMK), Indiya Jananayaga Katchi (IJK) and Indian Union Muslim League (IUML).
The ruling AIADMK, which contested alone in the 2014 elections and won 37 seats, is now contesting in 20 seats. The BJP and PMK won a seat each and NR congress won in Puducherry. This arithmetic may make one feel that the combine has an upper hand, but the present political scenario and recent developments do not favour this alliance.
The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) managed to ally with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK), Puthiya Thamizhagam (PT), New Justice Party (NJP), Tamil Maanila Congress (TMC) and NR Congress (in Puducherry).
AIADMK in shambles after Jayalalitha's demise
After J Jayalalitha passed away after prolonged hospitalisation, the ruling party is left leaderless. The late CM never groomed any second rung leadership. The AIADMK legislators and ministers were seen literally begging to the late CM's aide V K Sasikala to take charge as the general secretary of the party. She was even elected as the leader of the legislative party, but she was not invited to form the government. Within a week, she was jailed for inappropriate wealth accumulation.
Edappadi K Palaniswami was elected as the CM, while O Panneerselvam raised a banner of revolt. Later, he joined the ministry as Deputy CM and both Palaniswami and Panneerselvam sidelined the Sasikala faction and took over the reins of both the party and government. They promised to keep the party free from the family clutch. This led to the formation of Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK) by former MP TTV Dhinakaran, a nephew of V K Sasikala. He sprang a surprise by winning the R K Nagar Assembly byelection as an independent defeating both AIADMK and DMK which fell vacant after Jayalalitha passed away. The victory was attributed to the use of money power by many political observers.
The prospects of AIADMK-BJP combine is supposed to be damaged by the candidates of AMMK in the assembly by elections (18 seats go to poll on April 18 and four seats on May 19) and the parliamentary elections. AMMK is contesting from 38 seats in Tamil Nadu and from one in Puducherry while its alliance partner Social Democratic Party of India is contesting from one seat. The AMMK is banking on traditional AIADMK voters and is about to damage the AIADMK vote share in critical constituencies.
The present AIADMK government is accused of playing in to the hands of the central government in many sensitive issues. Whatever projects the late J Jayalalitha opposed are being implemented with vigour. Political analysts have been criticising the Palaniswami and Panneerselvam combine for showing no resistance to anti-people, anti-farmer schemes being implemented amidst strong opposition.
BJP may return empty-handed from the state
The BJP managed to win a single seat in the last general elections, and is contesting from five seats in the AIADMK alliance. The policies of the union government have not gone well with the people of Tamil Nadu. The people of the state have a feeling of being betrayed by the BJP government’s policies. The BJP too has fielded candidates known for making controversial statements in sensitive issues. The justification of police firing in Thoothukudi against the protestors has severely dented the image of BJP.
The BJP rule has made a literal mockery of the public opinion on issues like NEET, GAIL pipeline project in Delta district known for framing excellence, Green Corridor between Chennai and Salem affecting farmers of 5 districts, Sagarmala project affecting the complete sea shore population, UDAY scheme, implementation of GST affecting all sections of the MSME to name a few.
The federal structure stands severely affected with the BJP imposing many a projects without the consent of the stake holders, while the AIADMK has become a junior partner obeying all the orders of the union government. The conflict of interest on various issues came to the fore with the NDA partners continuing to speak in different voices regarding sensitive issues like NEET and Chennai-Salem green corridor among others.
DMK alliance concentrating on people’s issues
Most pre poll predictions have given a whopping 30+ seats while the Social Democratic Alliance (SDA) is hoping for a clean sweep. The massive turnouts in the election meetings have increased the confidence of the SDA. The general mood among the voters is also in favour of the alliance as many feel that the AIADMK without Jayalalitha has become a puppet in the arms of the BJP. The double anti-incumbency is surely favouring the SDA.
The DMK and its allies are in the fore front of number of issues affecting the public. The parties have led many agitations in the past few years. Few projects came to a standstill as a result of militant struggles of various SDA alliance partners and their mass fronts like All India Kisan Sabha.
The DMK and its alliance partners have managed to project an alternative to the current issues rocking the state. The major alliance partner of the DMK, the Congress party has proposed to list education in the state list from the concurrent list, effectively promising exemption from NEET for the state. These measures have been well received by the general public.
They have managed to convince the voters that the NDA alliance is highly opportunistic and the AIADMK has yielded to the pressure of BJP. The way the AIADMK is handled by the BJP has not gone well with the traditional AIADMK supporters. This may even favour the DMK alliance in few seats.
All the SDA partner parties have managed to speak in unison as far as the common issues are concerned. The elections manifestos have been received well for the issues being touched upon.
Other regional outfits to have less impact
The parties like Makkal Neethi Maiyam (MNK) led by actor Kamal Haasan and Naam Tamilar Katchi (NTK) led by Director Seeman are also in the fray. These two parties are contesting without any alliance. The influence of these parties is limited to certain groups and area. The NTK may increase the vote share compared to previous elections with the MNK is making its electoral debut. The votes these parties gain are not supposed to impact the electoral outcome by any means. The online campaign of the parties has influenced the youngsters to some extend but to what extend it will be converted to votes remains a question to be answered.
Issues impacting poll outcome
The state of Tamil Nadu has been a victim of imposition of various schemes by the union government over the last five years. The AIADMK has aligned with the BJP for its survival in power is also facing the people without a courageous leader. The DMK-led alliance on the other side has done extremely well in exposing the unholy alliance of the AIADMK and BJP. They have also managed to impress the voters with the vigour they showed in the initial phase of campaigning till the last day. By all means the state of Tamil Nadu may take side with the DMK alliance going with the trend on the ground.