It should go down as an election where the value of a vote has reached new heights. Up to Rs 10,000 per vote, if allegations are to be believed.
TTV Dinakaran and the ruling AIADMK faction are fighting a prestige battle for late AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa’s RK Nagar seat and have allegedly jacked up the price in the electoral market.
Rest in the fray can't complain about the disgusting cash for vote practice, now part of a standard operating procedure (SOP) in a Tamil Nadu election. Their problem is that the rate had gone too high from the Rs 500 to Rs 1000 that was the benchmark, allegedly!
It is believed that DMK working president MK Stalin has told his party they won't pay for votes. Probably because it's become too expensive, and DMK which once mastered the practice, now feels it has become the singular credible party in the state. If it wins it will reiterate that position.
But there are more covert calculations here. The two AIADMK factions are slugging it out to determine who represents Jayalalthaa's legacy.
The faction that is ruling the state, one which also has the two leaves symbol, has fielded the party's presidium chairman E Madhusoodhanan as their candidate.
It doesn't matter to them that the overwhelming perception is that both factions have lost credibility and may not be seen as successors to their 'Amma'. It is now just a symbolic between the two factions.
The BJP has been fishing in troubled waters and has fielded a candidate, but is unlikely to gain currency.
For Dinakaran, left out in the cold, a victory is the only way to claw back into the game. If he wins he will make a strong bid to topple the Edappadi Palaniswamy government. If he gets more votes than the AIADMK ruling faction, then again he may argue he is stronger.
The DMK's objective is to pull down the EPS government and force a mid-term poll and come to power. This is why they may be a tacit ally to Dinakaran.
The Union government would like to prolong the present establishment, which has virtually turned into a BJP B team, till it's convenient. Hence, they may be a tacit ally to the ruling faction.
In this back drop, there are subtle undercurrents and possible covert electoral understanding between the BJP and the ruling faction and DMK and Dinakaran.
The release of Jayalalithaa's video only reiterates the desperate need to evoke her name. TTV Dinakaran hopes the video will give him a last minute push. It's a reiteration that without Jayalalithaa, neither the pary nor factions mean much to the electorate.
Ultimately, it may not make a difference to the mess in a state that has been politically decisive and stable, till Jayalalithaa departed.
TM Veeraraghav is a senior journalist. Views are personal.