What was initially thought to be a Rajinikanth-centric Assembly election in Tamil Nadu is now seems to be morphing into DMK president MK Stalin-centric elections.
The reason being apart from the ruling AIADMK and its allies, non-aligned parties-parties and individuals not aligned with the AIADMK, other than Kamal Haasan’s MNM – are also attacking Stalin.
The Naam Tamizhar Katchi (NMK) chief Seeman has announced that he would contest against Stalin in the polls while being critical of the DMK.
Similarly, Stalin’s elder brother and expelled DMK leader M.K. Alagiri, after being silent since 2014 recently, said his supporters will not allow the DMK chief to become the Chief Minister.
AMMK party leader T.T.V. Dhinakaran too is critical of the DMK, calling it their primary enemy.
“All these talk around Stalin when he is the opposition shows Tamil Nadu politics centres around him,” said a political analyst not wanting to be named.
According to him, Stalin does not belong to any major caste and may be considered as “caste neutral” unlike his rival AIADMK’s Joint Coordinator and Chief Minister K. Palaniswami who belongs to the Gounder caste. Similarly, AIADMK’s Coordinator and Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam belongs to the Thevar caste.
According to the analyst, Kamal Haasan is an urban “caste neutral” leader while Seeman is rural “caste neutral” leader.
Other political analysts point out that Tamil Nadu politics was always leader-centric and it revolved around late leaders like Karunanidhi of the DMK, M.G. Ramachandran, the founder of the AIADMK and then, J. Jayalalithaa.
“It is only a perception that polls would have turned had Rajinikanth entered the fray. Tamil Nadu politics always revolved around the DMK and Karunanidhi. Now Stalin has replaced Karunanidhi and he has delivered a massive victory in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls,” political analyst Priyan said.
“There is also a possibility that the DMK may come to power in the state this time around. So, it is nothing but natural that others will target Stalin. The DMK leader is also attracting large crowds at his village meetings which is also interesting,” he added.
According to another political analyst Sriram Seshadri, the DMK may want to project that the election will be Stalin-centric.
“For two reasons, it can be said as Stalin-centric. Firstly, the DMK is out of power for the past 10 years. And it was a foregone conclusion amongst DMK allies that Stalin will be their chief ministerial candidate,” Seshadri said.
On the other hand, the AIADMK announced Palaniswami as its chief ministerial candidate after much wrangling between him and Panneerselvam.
However, the major alliance partner PMK has remained silent on the issue and the BJP leaders have been saying that the National Democratic Alliance’s chief ministerial candidate in Tamil Nadu will be announced by the party’s leadership.
According to Seshadri, the DMK and its poll strategists are trying to project that it is going to be a Stalin-centric polls.
“Had Rajinikanth entered the poll fray instead of backtracking, then the DMK would have projected Stalin versus Rajinikanth, ignoring the AIADMK,” he said.
Jayalalithaa made the 2014 Lok Sabha elections between AIADMK vs BJP, saying “Modi or this Lady”.
“In the 2016 Assembly polls, she totally ignored BJP though the latter attacked her party,” Seshadri said.
What is undeniable is that DMK had gone ahead with its poll campaign under different themes when there was an internal power struggle in the AIADMK.
Priyan does not see anything surprising in Dhinakaran and Seeman targeting the DMK and Stalin.
“For Dhinakaran who was earlier with AIADMK and was anti-DMK, it is nothing but natural he continues to consider the DMK as the primary rival. Similarly, Seeman has been attacking the DMK for a long time,” he said.
As regards Stalin’s elder brother Azhagiri’s opposition, Priyan, Seshadri and writer and political commentator Maalan Narayanan were of the view that he (Azhagiri) is involved in fighting the family politics and his agenda is limited to the extent to get himself or his son a role in the party or the party trust.
“The DMK cadres are seeing a chance of the party coming back to power after 10 years. It is doubtful whether they would listen to Azhagiri to scuttle the party’s chances at the polls,” Priyan added.
“Though Azhagiri had said he may float a political party, he may not do so. But he can play the role of a spoilsport for DMK if he is keen. He may field his supporters to eat into DMK’s votes. He is negotiating a family settlement,” Narayanan said.
“If Stalin wins the elections, then Azhagiri would lose the right to enter the DMK party or a position for his son,” Seshadri added.
On Kamal Haasan’s strategy of attacking mainly the ruling AIADMK and not the DMK, Narayanan said it may work against DMK as the anti-incumbency votes may go to his party and not for the DMK.
Agreeing that Kamal Haasan is attacking the AIADMK, Priyan said in the coming days the actor-turned-politician may start attacking the DMK.
Noting that the DMK is trying to create a Stalin centric wave as there was a Modi wave during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Seshadri added: “Palaniswami is also gaining ground. His popularity is also going up.” (IANS)