THE PATRIARCH ACT STILL RULES
He’s Tamil Nadu’s longestserving chief minister, and though wheelchair-bound now, he’s still seeking re-election as an MLA (for the 13th time, he has never lost). Muthuvel Karunanidhi will most likely win that battle, but his party, the DMK, faces an uphill task on the elections front. Bitter rival and incumbent chief minister J. Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK poses a stiff challenge, add to which there’s also a third front to deal with, comprising the ‘Captain’ Vijayakanth-led DMDK and the PWF, an alliance of four smaller parties, including the Left.
Sensing a tougher fight this time, the Kalaignar, as the DMK patriarch is called reverentially, has conceded just 41 constituencies to their partner, the Congress, keeping 180 of the 234 seats for himself, with 13 set aside for minor allies. Apart from the split in the antiincumbency vote, the DMK also has to worry about the debris from the 2G spectrum scam where many of its leaders are charged and a perceived lack of connect among young and new voters (voter registrations are up by 1.2 crore since the 2011 polls). He is banking on returns from son and former deputy CM M.K. Stalin’s very successful statewide ‘Namakku Naame’ (We are for Us) yatra last year, the latter’s youth connect, poll promises of jobs and a progressive ban on the sale of liquor, among other things to turn the tide against Jayalalithaa’s enduring rural connect. Amma’s writ runs deep now, having wooed voters steadily through a slew of schemes and sops, offered in phases during her current five-year tenure.
The DMK chief’s key strengths are his past performances as chief minister, a diehard party rank and
Nfile, mostly in urban and semi-urban pockets across Tamil Nadu and an impressive personal record in getting the state its due, irrespective of which party was in power in Delhi. “The Kalaignar has credibility, he’s given Tamil Nadu able governments, implementing schemes for the inclusive growth of the economy and uplift of the poor. Which is why the state now has the second-largest economy (next to Maharashtra) in terms of GSDP and is the third-largest contributing state to the national GDP,” argues Dr M. Naganathan, former vice-chairman of the Tamil Nadu State Planning Board.
DMK PATRIARCH M. KARUNANIDHI WITH HIS SON STALIN