Sunday, June 20, 2010

Tamil Nadu 2011- a curtain raiser

The political trend in Tamil Nadu is one of change and both the parites winning every alternative Vidhan Sabha election. In 1991, the AIADMK defeating DMK. The same result was fully reversed in 1996 when Jayalalithaa was routed and DMK stormed into power. Similarly, AIADMK won in 2001 and DMK in 2006. Therefore, by the current trend it should be the AIADMK winning the elections and forming a government in Tamil Nadu. But, this time it seems the trend will be broken and from what things are today, it is the DMK which will form the next government in Tamil Nadu and rule for 5 more years.
The populism of DMK is a major reason behind this wave. In the 2004 Lok Sabha elections and 2006 Vidhan Sabha elections, the populist schemes proposed by DMK were no match for Jayalalithaa, who was seen as unapproachable, corrupt and authoritarian. In 2004 she drew a blank and in 2006 her performance was averge. But, the populist rice and colour television schemes of the DMK have been a big hit among the voters in every region of Tamil Nadu. The political persona of Karunanidhi is far stronger than Jayalalithaa too. This also raises questions on the feasibility of populist schemes- infact, K Rosaiah has openly said he has no money to finance the populist schemes of YSR in Andhra Pradesh. But, it remains a vote catcher among the masses so it cannot be done away with.
The DMK has also scored better in the numbers game. In 2004, it was the BJP that dumped the DMK rather than the other way round and this was a big miscalculation. Since then, all the elections have been won by DMK at every level. The alliance arithmetic too suits the DMK. For one, it has the Congress as a part of the coalition. Since 1991, the alliance with the Congress as a part of it has always one. The presence of the party in Tamil Nadu has helped the Dravidian parties too. It has also got back the PMK which should help in pockets of north Tamil Nadu. As for the AIADMK, it is still without a strategy or an alliance partner.
In a personality clash, Karunanidhi beats Jayalalithaa hands down. At 87, Karunanidhi is seen as a patriarch and a seasoned politician. Jayalalithaa spends most of her time in the hills or away from the cadre and party workers. Her connect with the people seems to have gone down too. She has no credible allies and her party has lost every election since 2004. It is a tough task for her to regain lost ground in 2011 and she would have to work very hard for it.
But, DMK too has its share of problems. The dynastic war in Karunanidhi's family is touching new lows. There is a power struggle too with the major players being his sons Stalin and Azhagiri and daughter Kanimozhi coming distant third. There are the powerful Maran brothers wit their vast media empire and other business interests to be taken care of too. But, the charisma of Kalaignar should be able to overcome these. There remains a possibility of elections taking place in late 2010 itself but not much has been spoken on that front.
The final crucial factor is the Congress in Tamil Nadu. Tamil Nadu has not seen a Congress government since the 1960's and the state is on the radar of Rahul Gandhi for a very long time. The membership drive was successful and Rahul Gandhi also realizes the imprtance of the 40 Lok Sabha seats from Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. The Congress is on the comeback trail in Tamil Nadu and will remain a major player in Tamil Nadu politics in the decades to come. Unfortunately, the BJP remains a golden zero and it is high time the party develops a base here. Till then, it seems that M Karunanidhi will romp home and rule from Chennai till 2016 atleast.

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