It’s a sweep for MK Stalin in the parliamentary polls, but he will be left frustrated in the state assembly as the DMK won only 13 of the 22 constituencies that went to the bypolls. While Stalin has firmly cemented his place as the most powerful leader in a post-J Jayalalithaa and M Karunanidhi Tamil Nadu, his dream to become the chief minister may have to be put on hold at the moment.
The DMK has 97 seats in the assembly along with the Congress and IUML. With the 13 bypoll seats, its number goes to 110 in the 234 member house where the half way mark is 117. However, the AIADMK has serious internal issues and the defeat in the parliamentary polls will certainly raise problems for chief minister E Palanisamy.
In fact, the AIADMK lost in the entire western region and even lost the Salem seat which is the Chief Minster’s home town. This will certainly lead to those opposed to Palanisamy raise the pitch to dislodge him. While TTV Dhinakaran’s party did not manage to win even a single assembly seat, he is bound to move his cards to destabilise the government and reach out to disgruntled MLAs.
Interestingly, the only seat the AIADMK has won in the Lok Sabha is the Theni seat in southern Tamil Nadu where Deputy CM O Pannerselvam’s son OP Ravindranath trumped the Congress candidate. This is despite the TTV faction putting up a strong candidate for the seat to split the AIADMK vote.
So, in a devious way, OPS is better off than EPS after these results. However, they will have to take collective responsibility for the Lok Sabha debacle. It is clear that their alliance with the PMK hasn’t worked at all on the ground and as expected the friction between the cadres at the local level has meant that it was a failure. All PMK candidates, including party chief Anbumani Ramadass, lost by huge margins.
Though the BJP was a drain on the AIADMK alliance, all BJP candidates also have lost in the state, the fact that it won a landslide in the rest of the country means the EPS government will continue to take orders from New Delhi. Its survival would depend entirely on the BJP’s game plan.
This means that MK Stalin will be weary of making a bid to topple the government and seek a fresh election. With the backing of the BJP, the AIADMK will make every effort to curtail dissent and stay afloat for a while, but it is not clear if the ship will be led by E Palanisamy.
Meanwhile, Stalin will have to play his cards very carefully. Given the proposed entry of Rajinikanth in the next assembly election, the grass root equations may become chaotic for the DMK. While Kamal Haasan was a political flop, Rajinikanth is an entirely different ball game. Further, even if a government falls when an election would be held is uncertain and Stalin cannot afford to make a bad call at this stage.
In fact, the BJP may hope that a new entrant could take up the AIADMK’s space and try to make inroads in the state. So, in every way, the DMK has to wait and watch the situation carefully and the Tamil Nadu story will unravel in unexpected ways.