Ti­tans gone, pol­i­tics in TN en­ters a new phase

The deaths of charis­matic lead­ers Jay­alalithaa and Karunanidhi will leave a void that is for any­one’s tak­ing in the south In­dian state


The pass­ing of Dravida Mun­netra Kazhagam (DMK) pres­i­dent M. Karunanidhi brings the cur­tains down on an era in Tamil Nadu pol­i­tics dom­i­nated by the ri­valry be­tween J. Jay­alalithaa and Karunanidhi.

The deaths of the two charis­matic lead­ers now leave a void that is for any­one’s tak­ing, but de­spite the odds, the two Dra­vid­ian par­ties—the DMK and the All In­dia Anna Dravida Mun­netra Kazhagam (AIADMK)—ARE set to dom­i­nate the po­lit­i­cal arena, said an­a­lysts, adding that the emer­gence of new po­lit­i­cal par­ties without a Dra­vid­ian le­gacy or Tamil iden­tity will add lit­tle to the mix.

“This is clearly the start of a new era in Tamil Nadu. How­ever, the AIADMK is much weaker than the DMK,” said Ramu Mani­van­nan, a pro­fes­sor in the de­part­ment of pol­i­tics and pub­lic ad­min­is­tra­tion at the Uni­ver­sity of Chang­ing course? Madras, re­fer­ring to the in­fight­ing fol­low­ing Jay­alalithaa’s death. “In the case of the DMK, the tran­si­tion has been smooth.”

Karunanidhi had cho­sen his son M.K. Stalin, over daugh­ter Kan­i­mozhi and his other son M.K. Ala­giri, as his heir, and had ap­pointed him as the work­ing pres­i­dent of the DMK in Jan­uary 2017.

A. Marx, a Chen­nai-based an­a­lyst and Tamil writer, agreed: “As the peo­ple of Tamil Nadu are al­ready an­gry with the cur­rent state govern­ment, the po­lit­i­cal vac­uum will be felt and that would favour the DMK.” Marx does not ex­pect any sig­nif­i­cant change within the DMK. “But these two par­ties will re­main the dom­i­nant play­ers in Tamil Nadu for some time to come.”

San­deep Shas­tri, pro-vice chan­cel­lor of Ben­galuru-based Jain Uni­ver­sity, too, was on the same page, dis­miss­ing mega stars Ra­jinikanth and Ka­mal Haasan, who had re­cently an­nounced their en­try into pol­i­tics. While Haasan, 63, launched his Makkal Needhi Ma­iam (MNM) party in Fe­bru­ary, af­ter a suc­cess­ful five-decade long film ca­reer, Ra­jinikanth is yet to an­nounce the name of his po­lit­i­cal party.

“Both stars have en­tered pol­i­tics at a time which is very dif­fer­ent from the time M.G Ra­machan­dran, Jay­alalithaa or Karunanidhi en­tered pol­i­tics,” said Shas­tri. MGR fell out with Karunanidhi af­ter he was anointed leader of the DMK, and went on to form the AIADMK. His pro­tegee, Jay­alalithaa, took over the reins af­ter his death.

“Ka­mal Haasan is not seen to be say­ing the right things that strike a chord with the masses,” Shas­tri said, adding that this was de­spite his seem­ingly huge fan fol­low­ing in the state. “In the case of Ra­jinikanth, peo­ple don’t seem con­vinced that he is a 24x7 politi­cian. They seem to be be­lieve that Ra­jinikanth will not stick with pol­i­tics.”

How­ever, Mani­van­nan be­lieves that the vac­uum cre­ated by the death of Karunanidhi may see the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) mak­ing se­ri­ous in­roads into the state, while the Congress is seen as a party with no cred­i­bil­ity. Ac­cord­ing to him, the BJP has been very ac­tive since the death of Jay­alalithaa. “This could go up. The Tamil Nadu gov­er­nor (Ban­war­i­lal Puro­hit) is also seen as very ac­tive po­lit­i­cally. The BJP will evolve into a very im­por­tant po­lit­i­cal force. I will not say whether it will get seats in state or na­tional polls, but it will emerge as a strong force.”



Tamil Nadu chief min­is­ter Edap­padi K. Palaniswami, deputy chief min­is­ter O. Pan­neer­sel­vam and oth­ers with DMK work­ing pres­i­dent M.K. Stalin at Kau­very Hos­pi­tal.

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