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Unlike Jayalalithaa and Karunanidhi, EPS and Stalin Not Only Meet But Also Talk

Given the political uncertainty in Tamil Nadu, two of its main political parties continue to be at loggerheads and as analysts say, the DMK never stops trying to bring down the ‘leaderless’ AIADMK government. But have the situation changed since the Jayalalithaa-Karunanidhi era?

Poornima Murali | CNN-News18

Updated:February 23, 2018, 8:11 PM IST
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Unlike Jayalalithaa and Karunanidhi, EPS and Stalin Not Only Meet But Also Talk
File photo of Jayalalithaa, Karunanidhi, Palaniswami and Stalin.
Chennai: When Karunanidhi and Jayalalithaa ruled Tamil Nadu, the relationship between DMK and AIADMK was different from now. There was a sense of unease and tension between the two leaders who didn't come face-to-face even once. It was a known fact that one of them would always leave the Assembly when the other entered. But things have changed, now with Edapadi K Palaniswami and MK Stalin meeting each other and also participating in all-party meetings.

In the aftermath of the recent Supreme Court verdict on Cauvery water distribution, the DMK had sought an all-party meeting and said it will invite the ruling AIADMK. A day after, the Palaniswami government called for an all-party meeting and DMK accepted the invitation.

In 2002, when J Jayalalithaa, the then Chief Minister called for an all-party meeting to discuss the Cauvery issue, DMK chief Karunanidhi sent a party representatives to the meeting. In 2007, when it was his turn to call for an all-party meeting, Jayalalithaa sent O Panneerselvam to represent the AIADMK, who in turn read out a statement issued by Jayalalithaa at the meet.

The two leaders never physically participated in any of the all-party meetings on Cauvery.

Cauvery has always been an electoral issue and when either party was in power, the Opposition demanded an all-party meeting. Interestingly, when MGR was in power and called for one of these meetings, Karunanidhi personally attended the meet.

However, that climate of the 2000s do not exist in this day.

Both the AIADMK government and opposition DMK continue take on each other on various issues, but the kind of uneasy relationship between Karunanidhi and Jayaalalithaa do not exist any longer.

Given the political uncertainty in Tamil Nadu, two of its main political parties continue to be at loggerheads and as analysts say, the DMK never stops trying to bring down the ‘leaderless’ AIADMK government.

So, have the things finally changed after the Jayalalithaa-Karunanidhi era?

Political observer T. Ramakrishnan says, “Ever since Jayalalithaa’s death in December 2016, the nature of the relationship between the state’s two principal political parties, DMK and AIADMK has undergone a qualitative change. Indications of such a change were evident even during the days when Jayalalithaa was in hospital.”

“When M Karunanidhi and Jayalaltihaa were in charge of their parties respectively, there existed an uneasy relationship between the two parties. There was hardly any social interaction between leaders of the two parties. Now, the palpable tension between the two parties ceases to exist and this could be evident either in the submission of a memorandum by Leader of Opposition M K Stalin to CM Palaniswami on the issue of revamping state transport corporations, or in the way Palaniswami receives Stalin in his chamber or at the all-party meeting being organised by the state government on the Cauvery row. All of these point to the changed equations."

N. Sathiya Moorthy, political analyst, admits that the Dravidian parties' style of functioning has changed since 2016. He says, “Both sides have changed their style of functioning, not only to avoid being seen as sticking to competitive politics and providing a great political platform to others, but also for not knowing how to hurt each other.”

However, others say things continue to be the same. S Ramesh, political observer, said, “Given the sensitive nature of the Cauvery issue, these parties are in compulsion to be united. They do not want to stay away from the all-party meeting as that will send wrong signals to the people of Tamil Nadu. However, on other issues, they continue to attack each other personally, there is no decency and they are playing to the gallery. The same old culture continues on other matters. Just because the DMK Working President is attending the all-party meeting, it does not mean things have changed.”

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| Edited by: Sanchari Chatterjee
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