Politics in Tamil Nadu will never be the same again after the death of the DMK stalwart M Karunanidhi. Though it is not correct to say that a political void is there post Karunanidhi Tamil Nadu, a better assessment of the situation will be to say that at present there is no leader in Dravidian politics today to match the stature of Karunanidhi. Karunanidhi was not active in politics for some time before he died due to his poor health. Earlier, J Jayalalitha of the AIADMK passed away in December 2016 leaving her party a rudderless ship.
The virtual monopoly of the two Dravidian parties has come to an end now. The political space is now there for others to occupy. The hype and expectations created by the two super film stars of the Tamil cinema Rajnikanth and Kamal Hassan over their entry into politics have come as a non-starter.
Stars not shining
Kamal Hassan (63) launched his political party Makkal Needhi Maiam in February this year in Madurai which was a low key affair. In his inaugural address to his fan followers in Madurai, he said, “I am not a cinema star anymore. I am the lamp of all your house. Please protect me and keep me lit.”
But Kamal Hassan remains a film star till date in addition to heading a political party. Only last week (August 11) his new film Vishwaroopam 2 was released and he could be seen promoting his new film on news channels. The second sequel of Vishwaroopam has also Hindi version. Kamal Hassan is in the lead role with some great character artistes like Shekhar Kapoor and Rahul Bose playing important roles in the film. I had written a piece on Hassan, a day after he launched his party (19 February 2018) wherein I commented that Politics is an art of the possible. Acting in film is quite a different thing than acting on the ground in politics.
So far his Party has failed to make any impact on Tamil Politics.
Another great star Rajnikanth who went into the Himalayas earlier this year to seek solace and blessings of Sadhus and Sants had said, “God has wished him to join politics”. We are still waiting for Rajnikanth to formally launch his party.
Uphill task for Stalin
MK Stalin, the successor of his father Karunanidhi to head the DMK faces an uphill task to retain the sway in the State. Stalin’s stepbrother Alagiri who was suspended from the DMK in the lifetime of Karunanidhi for raising a banner of revolt against Stalin being nominated as the successor of Karunanidhi has changed his stance. Realising that the cadre of the Party is behind Stalin he will patch up with his brother to stay afloat in politics.
Though Stalin is in full command of his Party apparatus, he lacks the charisma of his father Karunanidhi. He will have to prove his mettle by winning seats in elections in future to establish himself as a ‘real neta’.
Window for national parties
There is a window for the national parties like the BJP and the Congress to make inroad in Tamil politics now. The possible and perhaps most likely realignment of political forces will veer around the AIADMK and the DMK. Of the two parties, the AIADMK is likely to side with the BJP. It has voted for the NDA candidate for the post of Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha. Harivansh won the chair with a comfortable majority. The AIADMK also voted against the no-confidence motion in Lok Sabha moved by the Congress and other opposition parties.
The term of the present State Assembly ends in 2021. After the death of J Jayalalitha, the DMK made few attempts to destabilise the government and engineer defections in the AIADMK Legislative Party to capture power. But all attempts failed. The AIADMK though split into two camps are running the government with some degree of understanding. It is difficult to hazard a guess if one or the other faction of the AIADMK will split to join the DMK in near future.
As indications are the AIADMK government will go with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and in all likelihood would accommodate the BJP by sharing seats in the Lok Sabha elections due next year. The AIADMK had swept the polls under the leadership of Jayalalitha by winning 37 of the 39 Lok Sabha seats; one seat went to the BJP and one seat went to the PMK. The present chief minister E K Palaniswami and the Deputy Chief Minister O Paneerselvam will taste political waters of elections first time in 2019 when Lok Sabha elections will be held.
Congress wooing Stalin
The Congress Party is trying hard to be an alliance partner of the DMK in the next Lok Sabha elections. Both the DMK and the Congress had drawn a blank in 2014. For Stalin, the Lok Sabha election will be important. He will try his level best to make a presence in the next Lok Sabha. It is likely that the DMK will keep the Congress by its side with Communists in the toe.
The real test of political supremacy will be in the State Assembly elections that would decide which way the Tamil voters go. It is still three years from now that a new State Assembly will be elected unless the present government falls and there is a midterm poll.