Coalition Coaches Line Up on TN Poll Track
By Shyam Balasubramanian - CHENNAI
Published: 16th Feb 2014 10:41:15 AM
The Lok Sabha electoral battlefield in Tamil Nadu is simmering with action. With her eyes firmly set on New Delhi, Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa has decided to ally with the Left expecting a Third-front government. DMK with no major ally in sight is trying to consolidate its presence in the region by tying up with the smaller regional parties. Despite the NaMo factor BJP has fallen short of forming a rainbow alliance and the Congress stands alone and last in this race.
The AIADMK secured 16.71 per cent of the votes in 2009 to clinch seven of the 40 seats in Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry. It had secured 29.77 per cent of the votes in 2004, the largest in Tamil Nadu, but had drawn a blank in the face of a strong alliance facing it. The CPI (M) and CPI have about 2.8 per cent of the vote each, promising the alliance at least 22 per cent of the vote in the coming election.
The AIADMK, after a very strong showing in the 2011 Assembly election, dabbled with the idea of facing the Lok Sabha polls alone. But realpolitik led AIADMK supremo and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa to choose to distance herself from the BJP and ally with the Left. The political calculation seems to be two-pronged.
One, split the entire vote bank down the middle by denying a safe alliance for parties that cannot at the moment knock on the DMK doors. Two, allying with the Left would not only open up options in a possible Third Front, but also keep alive the possibility of a post-poll tie-up with the BJP.
The DMK seems to be in more trouble than its archrival. The taint of graft scandals like the 2G Scam, combined with anti-incumbency are likely to affect the party. What is making it worse for the DMK is that it does not have a single major party in its corner. It has managed to bring together two Muslim outfits Manithaneya Makkal Katchi [MMK] and Indian Union Muslim League [IUML] and two Dalit outfits Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi [VCK] and Puthiya Tamilagam [PT] under its banner. It waited for a long time for the DMDK to approach it, but party patriarch M Karunanidhi shut the doors to that possibility on February 13.
The DMK secured 18.32 per cent of the votes in 2009, and 24.6 per cent in 2004. The VCK secured 1.18 per cent in 2009. IUML had contested under the DMK symbol, and PT polled 0.4 per cent of the votes in 2009. This would mean the DMK front is likely to pull in around 18 to 20 per cent of the votes.
The DMK split ties with the Congress by quitting the UPA government in March 2013, citing the Sri Lankan Tamil issue and has announced it would align with neither Congress nor BJP in the Lok Sabha polls.
Not so rainbow
The BJP has brought a handful of small parties together, in a failed bid at a rainbow alliance. It presently has the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK), the Indhiya Jananayaka Katchi and the Kongu Nadu Makkal Desiya Katchi (KNMDK). It is yet to finalise an understanding with the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), and grasping at straws with the DMDK. The BJP usually finds it hard to find reliable allies in Tamil Nadu, thanks to its stereotyping as a ‘communal’ party. It is a no-go area for alliances with Muslim outfits. It also suffers in building alliances with political outfits representing the supposedly lower castes, given the long history of anti-Hindu politics in Tamil Nadu. The alliance it has built can at best be called underdog, but that could change if the DMDK and PMK join.
The Congress had polled about 15 per cent of the votes across 2004 and 2009. But that figure is likely to be a gross overestimate of its support in Tamil Nadu, and could have been reached only thanks to strong local allies. The Congress’s support can be estimated to be no more than four or five percent, and would mean anything only if it does pull the DMDK on board. The Congress is persona non grata and stands alone.