Dinakaran is TN's dark horse
Will RK Nagar win help him claim AIADMK?
Tamil Nadu is back in focus, this time in view of the surprising results of a by-election. They have raised a pertinent question whether corruption is an issue at all in this country. The results say no. Who would have thought that the people of the RK Nagar constituency held by the late J Jayalalithaa would elect a man with a perceived corrupt image? With the return of TTV Dinakaran, nephew of Sasikala, Jayalalithaa's companion, the Mannargudi clan is back in the reckoning. Dinakaran fought as an Independent because the ruling AIADMK led by E Palaniswamy and O Panneerselvam had expelled him and his aunt from the party.
The surprise results have upset many of the stakeholders. There is bound to be a realignment of political forces in the state. The first to be hit was the ruling EPS-OPS combine, which was hoping to claim the legacy of Jayalalithaa. With such a handsome margin surpassing even Jaya, TTV and Sasikala will not let them claim it asserting they are the real AIADMK, even if the Election Commission had recognised the united AIADMK as the real party and also allotted the two leaves symbol. They had the government, a good candidate in Madhusudan, and money and the MLAs. Secondly, TTV has already claimed that the AIADMK government will fall in three months. Read this as a warning that he is planning to destabilise the government and would like to become the chief minister at the earliest by using all kinds of methods including horse-trading. The only saving grace for EPS-OPS combine would be only if the legislators do not want to face an election when they have another three and a half years to go.
The DMK working president MK Stalin is another man who is disappointed because he was hoping to establish his leadership and had been going round the state enthusing the cadres. This was his first acid test after taking over the reins of the party as the working president. This would dent his image to a certain extent. The DMK too had many advantages because it had the committed voters, good cadre, support of other parties like the Congress, Left and the Vidudalai Chiruttai Katchi. The AIADMK votes had a three-way split.
BJP was trying to come closer to the DMK with the gesture shown by Prime Minister Narendra Modi visiting the ailing Karunanidhi in his Gopalapuram residence and also inviting him to come and take rest in his Prime Ministerial residence. Added to that was the relief the party got when the DMK leaders like A Raja and Kanimozhi were acquitted in the 2G case on the day of the polling. The AIADMK government was going nowhere and there was no development work undertaken by the government. Despite all these, the DMK came third and also lost its deposit.
As for Congress and other smaller parties like PMK, MDMK, and DMDK, they did not have much stakes. The BJP came last and even the number of NOTA votes was double than what its candidate secured. This must have been a disappointment for a party which has been trying to find its feet in the south and more so in Tamil Nadu where it does not have a single MLA. It was trying to ride piggyback first with Panneerselvam when he was the Chief Minister after Jaya's death and then when the EPS-OPS faction united and formed the AIADMK government. When this was found not working, the BJP was trying to make some alliance with the DMK. Now it appears it seems to have been baking all the wrong horses. So it is keeping open all the options for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Though TTV is a winner now, he has to cross a hurdle race, several cases are pending against him. It is a big question whether he can get the AIADMK legislators to join him and he can become the Chief Minister. It is not clear what stand the BJP will take against him, as the party at the Centre has been cold to both TTV and his aunt.
One thing is certain. The instability in the state, which has been known for its progress, will continue. After the demise of Jayalalithaa and the deteriorating health of Karunanidhi, there has been a vacuum. The younger leaders are not of the same statures be it Stalin, or Anbumani Ramdoss or Captain Vijay Kant or any other Congress leader like Tirunavukkarasu. Even the aspiring film heroes like Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan will not come up to their level. How can a leaderless state go forward? This is what is ailing Tamil Nadu. This instability in all parties may continue until some strong leader emerges to fill up the vacuum. TTV Dinakaran is certainly not that leader.
(The views expressed are strictly personal.)