Allies the Stars in Tamil Nadu RS Drama
By Shyam Balasubramanian - CHENNAI
Published: 19th Jan 2014 12:18:08 PM
The bugle kick-starting coalition games in Tamil Nadu has been sounded. The announcement that the Rajya Sabha elections would be held on February 7 might turn out to be the catalyst for firming up political formations that are likely to hold ranks for the Lok Sabha polls. The intimation has brought a sense of urgency to the presently fractured political field in Tamil Nadu and parties are now faced with decisions with far-reaching consequences.
The AIADMK is leading a front that has both the CPI (M) and CPI in it. This front has the brute force to wrest five of the six Rajya Sabha seats that are coming up for grabs. This would be a repeat of the alignment seen in the previous Rajya Sabha polls held in June 2013. The AIADMK had elected four of its members and spared its other votes to send CPI’s D Raja to the Upper House of Parliament. This time around, the CPI (M) would be in line for the AIADMK’s patronage with the term of its senior leader TK Rangarajan coming to a close.
The sixth Rajya Sabha seat from Tamil Nadu, which in the present scheme of things is dependent on alliances, will witness all the drama. The DMK would eye on the seat, either for itself or to use as a bargaining chip to firm up a truck with the DMDK, which is the only substantial ally left for it to court.
The DMDK has been courted by the DMK and BJP fronts and has been playing hard to get. It has been steeped in confusion over whether to hitch its fortunes with the perceived pro-Modi wave of the BJP or the wheeling-dealing of the DMK. Having missed out on the opportunity of sending its first MP to Parliament in 2013, or even confirming its place in 2014 via alliances, the DMDK is likely to be forced to decide quickly.
The DMK, however, holds a significant edge over the DMDK with respect to the Rajya Sabha polls. The DMDK presently has 28 members in the Assembly, of which it still controls 21. The other seven have been functioning as a separate faction favourable to the AIADMK and are likely to continue taking orders from the treasury benches rather from their party office.
The DMK, however, has 23 members, along with professed support from four MLAs of two recent allies. This puts it well ahead of the DMDK in attaining the 34 votes needed to secure the Rajya Sabha seat.
The Congress is presently persona non grata in Tamil Nadu and stands isolated. The party would be making attempts to use its five MLAs to gain some leverage in the hope of finding an ally ahead of the Lok Sabha polls. It also now stands no chance of getting two of its prominent members—Union Shipping Minister G K Vasan and former Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan—re-elected to the Upper House.
The other formation lining up for the Lok Sabha polls, led by the BJP, will have no game underway. The BJP does not have a single representative in the state Assembly or even a single ally at the moment. However, it is in talks with the PMK, which has three members.
The importance of the Rajya Sabha polls is more in relation to the Lok Sabha polls. The AIADMK is running a tight ship, content with its present allies and steering clear of the BJP, with the aim of gaining post-poll advantage in the event of the emergence of a third front.
The Sunday Standard