Tamil Nadu heads to the polls on Thursday sans two big names on the ballot. Two titans of not only Tamil Nadu politics but Indian politics, former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa of the AIADMK and M Karunanidhi of the DMK have passed on marking the end of an eventful era in the state.The current AIADMK government has been shaky from the day their party leader died; infighting and the formation of camps within has proved to be disastrous for them. With 39 seats up for grabs, a political outsider but hugely popular film star has entered the political fray; Kamal Haasan and his Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) make their debut. What makes the state such an important one every election? Viju Cherian, in a column for Moneycontrol writes on this –
Last month, during his visit to Chennai, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi gave a preview of the party’s manifesto promising 33% reservation for women and criticised Modi for ‘remote controlling’ the state from New Delhi. The manifesto addressed two issues that the state has brought up many times with the centre to no avail – scrapping the NEET entrance exam for medical colleges, which was a source of controversy and comprehensive education reforms. The minimum income scheme that has garnered a lot of attention has ensured the support of the state’s cotton workers union as reported in Dinakaran. AIADMK – BJP alliance The AIADMK, unlike their chief political rival in the state has had a rough of it since their leader J Jayalalithaa died. The party had no clear plan in place for succession. In the weeks that followed, the party struggled. Camps formed and the party seemingly fractured, but they maintained some sense of structure to continue governing the state.
DMK President MK Stalin: Yes I had proposed Rahul Gandhi's name, in Chennai's DMK rally, as the next PM. It is very funny that when I said this, media asked me why you said this but yesterday when I did not say this the same media is saying that why you did not say this. pic.twitter.com/vaURiW8tss— ANI (@ANI) January 20, 2019
Sumanth Raman, Chennai-based journalist, in a column for Moneycontrol states just that – the Congress DMK alliance is ahead and the NDA will need to overcome anti-incumbency –
“AIADMK leaders including Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami has run a spirited campaign, hitting the streets with gusto, talking about various welfare schemes and invoking the name of late Jayalalithaa. A reasonably good performance will boost the morale of both the AIADMK and the BJP in Tamil Nadu. If the alliance manages to win about 10 seats, it should be satisfied.” E Palaniswami has his work cut out for him. The party needs to win at least 8 assembly seats to win comfortably in the assembly. Him forming an alliance with the BJP was and is risky. The national party doesn’t have much of a presence in the state and some have a grudge against the state and national party for not properly reacting after cyclone Gaja. The state has seen controversies such as the violent and deadly protests surrounding the Sterlite plant and the Chennai-Salem expressway which has strong opposition. Others Two big names dominate the remainder of the field. Hugely popular film star Kamal Haasan and his MNM will for the first time contest elections in the state. He has the backing of former AAP leader Yogendra Yadav. While campaigning for him, he said “I believe that political establishment of TN which includes the DMK, AIADMK and national parties they all have reached a dead end.” Dismissing the notion that he’s drawing crowds only because of his status of a film star, Haasan said, “If you wanted to watch me as an artiste, you might as well have preferred the comfort of an air conditioned theatre...but I stand here on behalf of the masses and to work for your welfare.” TTV Dhinakaran, the nephew of Jayalalithaa’s confidant V Sasikala could play a role in who forms the government in the state. The 56 year old could be the disruptor. Ejected from the AIADMK, he now calls the Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK) his political home and the current government is one he’s after. This could potentially help the DMK-Congress alliance. In an interview to the Economic Times earlier this month, he predicted a defeat for the ruling party saying in part, “The AIADMK needs to get at least eight seats to keep its government, which they will not. After this election, almost all the AIADMK cadre will be by my side.” More columns by Varun Sukumar