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It is not going to be a cake walk for DMK led front in Lok Sabha elections in Tamil Nadu

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Both AIADMK and BJP led alliances are well set to take on MK Stalin this time

By K R Sudhaman

Tamil Nadu, which goes to Lok Sabha polls in the first phase itself on April 19 is likely to see an interesting three-cornered contest with alliances by the three formations having been firmed up. With most of the smaller regional parties having joined one formation or the other, it is quite clear that the fight is between my dynast versus your dynast in many of the key constituencies. BJP too is no exception. If at all there is one party where dynasts are less, it is AIADMK, which could turn out to be the dark horse in these general elections. Also it is the party with least number of alliance partners and perhaps has the largest cadre base with nearly two crore membership in the state.

But it is a party with more interest in capturing power in the state as it being a regional party and usually aligns with whichever combination is in power at the centre so as to ensure smooth functioning of administration in the state when in power. This time one thing is clear that it is not going to be a cakewalk for any of the three formations and all seats will be hard fought barring a few exceptions, which are considered to be safe seats for DMK or AIADMK. There is also a delicate balance between legacy and merit in the selection of candidates. Dynastic appears to have come to the fore but it is to be seen if voters see it as a negative or prefer delivery on the ground while choosing their candidates.

In the ruling DMK, nothing moves without the blessings of the first family, led by Chief Minister M K Stalin. The Party has stitched up a formidable alliance with Congress, fielding relatives of the first family and some top leaders on their stronghold seats. The party, though claims to be a social reformer through its movement, has mastered the divide and rule. It knows how to divide castes and work on the arithmetic to its advantage. The cadres in several constituencies seem to be quite upset as they fear they find it difficult to go up the ladder as most of the top positions are occupied by the first family or families of a chosen few top leaders.

Also in the present Stalin government, half of the ministers are those who joined the party from AIADMK ahead of the assembly elections in 2021. This diminishes the possibility of the cadre moving up as those AIADMK leaders have joined the party with their important cadres from AIADMK to ensure their area of influence is maintained in their constituencies. This is a big negative factor for DMK this election coupled with several corruption charges against their ministers and poor administration during the time of last year's floods that has made the voters angry. AIADMK led by MGR or Jayalalithaa, were quick to respond during such crisis situations though some minor mistakes could have been made. To err is human but swift response and timely help is something that voters look for in times of crisis in which AIADMK seems to have performed better than DMK in recent years.

DMK has fielded dynasts Kanimozhi Karunanidhi, Dayanidhi Maran, Thamizhachi Thangapandian, Arun K N Nehru, D M Kaathir Anand. Kaathir Anand is son of powerful DMK minister Durai Murugan, allegedly involved in a sand scam being investigated by ED. Though DMK is known for using filthy language during electioneering, this time it has gone a little too far indulging in personal attacks including on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and this only proves the point that the party is a bit nervous with several ED, CBI, IT and drug cases with some pointers to the alleged involvement of the first family. Reopening of the 2G scam case by the Delhi High Court is yet another setback especially to DMK leadership, A Raja and Kanimozhi.

The party fears the investigations may go the Aam Aadmi way. Congress, a major ally of DMK, too has its share of dynasts starting with Karti Chidambaram, who is contesting his Sivaganga constituency, won by his father P Chidambaram, several times. Karti won this seat in the last 2019 and his father became Rajya Sabha member. Karti is now facing ED heat. There were some murmurs in Congress when the seat was allotted to him in 2019.

Dayanidhi Maran, DMK MP from Central Chennai and a candidate from the same constituency this time gave in response to the dynastic politics allegations, a long list of sons and daughters in BJP including union ministers Anurag Thakur and Jyotiraditya Scindia, B S Yediyurappa's son, B Y Raghavendra and former Rajasthan CM's son Dushyant Singh. Dayanidhi is son of former union minister Murasoli Maran.

The prestigious south Chennai constituency will face a fierce battle among three dynasts. BJP candidate and former Telangana governor Tamilisai Soundararajan, daughter of Kamaraj's close aide and Congress veteran, Kumari Ananthan is facing Thamizhachi of DMK and former AIADMK MP J Jayavardhan. Stalin, whose son Udayanidhi is also a minister in Tamil Nadu, has however shrugged off criticism of dynastic politics saying his party relied on Dravidian ideology and merit. Thamizhachi is a former English professor and a Tamil writer.

PMK, headed by Anbumani, whose father S Ramdoss, was president of the party before him, has aligned with BJP this time and is contesting 10 seats in central and western Tamil Nadu where his community Vanniyars (Yadav) are the dominant force. Ramdoss was minister in Vajpayee government. This time his wife Sowmya Anbumani, is contesting Dharmapuri constituency, which had been won by Anbumani earlier. PMK keeps changing its alliance every time like Nitish Kumar of JD(U) or late Ram Vilas Paswan. AIADMK leader Edappadi Palaniswami has rightly described Anbumani as a “migratory bird”.

Last time the party went with DMK and before that with AIADMK. This time it was negotiating with AIADMK and in the last minute decided to go with BJP and the allegation is that there was an ED threat and perhaps got more funds from BJP than what AIADMK offered to fight the elections. BJP has fielded Radhika Sarathkumar, a film personality and wife of actor R Sarathkumar, who merged his political outfit with BJP recently. Sarathkumar belonged to the Nadar community, dominant in Southern Tamil Nadu and K Kamaraj belonged to this community, as did Kumari Ananthan. Sasi Kala, Dinakaran and OPS belong to Thevar community, dominant in Madurai region, while Palaniswami and Annamalai belong to the Gounder community, dominant in Western region.

MDMK leader Vaiko's son Durai Vaiko, is contesting Tiruchi constituency. “The BJP has no moral right to talk about dynasty politics or nepotism,” Durai Vaiko said. MDMK is contesting in alliance with DMK.

The late Vijay Kant's son V Vijay Prabhakar of DMDK, founded by Vijay Kant, is contesting Virudhanagar constituency, which was held by Kamaraj in the 1950s and 60s. Now DMDK is headed by Vijay Kant's wife and has aligned with AIADMK.

The AIADMK seems to be a less of Dynastic party. Its leaders have never been a dynast, be it M G Ramachandran, J Jayalalithaa or now Edappadi Palaniswami. O Panneerselvam, who attempted to pursue dynastic politics to some extent has been expelled from the party and is now contesting in alliance with BJP. OPS's son is AIADMK MP in the present Lok Sabha. He tried to convert AIADMK as a family run and his community run party just as Karunanidhi had converted DMK into a dynastic party. When Annadurai was its head in the 1950s and 1960s, it was different and today no one hears of his family being in the thick of politics just as Mahatma Gandhi's or Rajaji's family.

He contested the seat in 2019 when OPS was in AIADMK and that is the only Lok Sabha seat the party won. BJP also has Sasikala's nephew Dinakaran AMMK party as its alliance partner and is contesting two seats from Southern Tamil Nadu. Of course AIADMK too has a few minor dynasts in the fray. J Jayavardhan in south Chennai is son of former minister D Jayakumar, Singai Ramachandran, who is pitted against BJP TN President K Annamalai, is son of ex MLA Singai Govindarasu. In Nilgiris, AIADMK's D Lokesh Tamilselvan, son of former assembly speaker P Dhanapal, is pitted against former telecom minister A Raja of DMK, who may face stiff fight this time.

It is not going to be a clean sweep for DMK in 39 constituencies in Tamil Nadu this time, though it is still the front runner because of its strong alliance which includes congress and two communist parties. But AIADMK cannot be taken lightly as it will win quite a number of seats this time considering they were close second in many seats last time and that there is anti-incumbency, inefficiency and corruption charges against DMK government. BJP too is growing in Tamil Nadu and it is in a strong position in a few seats in southern and western Tamil Nadu, besides improving its vote share.

BJP may give a tough fight in South Chennai seat where former Telangana Governor is contesting. So it is quite likely 39 seats will get divided among various parties with DMK getting the maximum followed by AIADMK, BJP. The CPI and the CPI(M) which are contesting in two seats each as a part of the DMK led front are working hard to retain their seats but the task is tough this time . Many of the smaller parties will have a tough time and are likely to get increasingly marginalised in this elections, making their presence that much more difficult in the 2026 Tamil Nadu Assembly elections. Among the smaller parties only PMK and DMDK could win one or two seats. Caste and dynastic politics will play a role in spite of the fact that every party vouch for social reforms and ending casteist politics. (IPA Service)

Northlines
Northlines
The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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