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Rise of the Phoenix Burns Many Rival Dreams

Karnataka High Court’s vindication of Jayalalithaa in assets case traumatises opposition parties; a wave of frenzy sweeps Tamil Nadu.

Published: 17th May 2015 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 17th May 2015 09:00 AM   |  A+A-

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CHENNAI:After Karnataka High Court judge Kumarasamy read his verdict on AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa’s assets case, hundreds of miles away the dreams of at least a dozen politicians here lay shattered to pieces in a matter of two minutes.

DMK president M Karunanidhi’s Gopalapuram residence buzzing with political activities on a busy Monday morning fell silent. The distant sound of bursting crackers hardly a kilometre away in front of Jayalalithaa’s Poes Garden residence added gloom to the eerie silence.

The sun (also the symbol of DMK) going behind the clouds is a rare sight here in summer, especially a week after the commencement of dog days. But the judgement day was symbolically different with rains in many parts of the state. The ‘sun’ was under a cloud and ‘leaves’ appeared fresh and green.

DMK heir M K Stalin, taking a leaf out of Jaya’s book, has already charted out plans for public meetings in Tamil Nadu. The AIADMK supremo held similar meetings a year ahead of the 2011 Assembly elections and they were seen as a turning point in the state politics, due to the enthusiastic response she received. The DMK had planned a similar exercise to project Stalin as the future Chief Minister and the first meeting is to take place at Madurai on May 23.

But the enthusiasm among the DMK cadres seems to have suddenly drained and the prospect of Stalin taking on the charismatic Jayalalithaa who had defeated veteran Karunanidhi in three Assembly battles appears quite daunting.

A senior journalist working for a magazine supporting the DMK for over two decades said, “Stalin can hardly attract the masses and increase the existing DMK vote bank. If Jayalalithaa is not in contest, he can be projected as a better candidate than CM O Panneerselvam. When Jayalalithaa is in the fray, Stalin stands no chance of winning. Even senior DMK leaders who are with Karunanidhi are not optimistic about Stalin’s prospects. He cannot establish a connect with the masses while the appeal of Jayalalithaa cuts across all sections of people in rural as well as urban areas. The potential allies for the DMK too will not accept Stalin as CM candidate. Drawing allies may be possible only if DMK sacrifices half the number of Assembly seats with a promise of coalition government.”

DMK is not the only party to be overwhelmed by the development. Most of the opposition leaders are trying to come to terms with the reality and revise their poll strategy. BJP is the first party to realise the impact and greet the AIADMK leader. Party state chief Tamilisai Soundrarrajan and Union Minister Pon Radhakrishnan, who were harping on a BJP front government after the next Assembly elections, suddenly changed their tunes to the dismay of its partner DMDK. “All the parties will have to re-work their strategy,” Tamilisai declared.

“I welcome Amma as CM. With such an efficient CM, the state will be put in a path of growth and development. A leader like her will ensure that the state gains the most through maintaining cordial relations with the Centre,” said Radhakrishnan. The sudden twist in BJP leaders’ stand stems from the realisation that fielding DMDK leader Vijayakant or somebody from the BJP against the magnetic AIADMK general secretary will be futile.

The DMDK is furious with the BJP as it feels the latter is tilting towards the AIADMK and has abandoned its commitment to an alternative front in Tamil Nadu. One of the top functionaries said “AIADMK is the principal rival as far as the DMDK is concerned. BJP leaders applauding Jayalalithaa is certainly a matter of concern and shock for us. If they want to align with the AIADMK, let them go. We are least worried. We are not dependent on the BJP. It was the BJP which came to us for an alliance. There is no question of DMDK joining hands with AIADMK directly or indirectly as an ally of BJP.”

Another leader who had quickly come to terms with ground realities is Tamil Maanila Congress (TMC) leader and former Union Minister G K Vasan. “Everyone should respect a court verdict and should not view it politically. India is a country which respects law. TMC will join an alliance as per the people’s wish,” he said.

Rumblings are heard in the Congress camp too against TNCC president EVKS Elangovan, who was hailed as the future CM by the party’s national spokesperson Kushbu. Elangovan, for his part, said Kushbu would be minister when the Congress formed a government in the state.

Former MLA and senior Congress leader Selvaraj said, “Elangovan has unnecessarily supported DMK and opposed AIADMK. He has not criticised DMK on the issue of corruption, but has kept on making allegations against AIADMK. His statements appear as if they are prepared at the DMK headquarters. The Congress leadership especially is against the DMK leaders on the issue of 2G scam.” After Jayalalithaa’s legal victory, Congress functionaries feel aligning with the DMK would not fetch seats for the party in the Assembly polls.

Another CM candidate and PMK youth wing leader Anbumani Ramadoss, who crossed swords with Stalin, to emerge as a leading contender has fallen silent now. With Jayalalithaa back in the match, the chances of Anbumani are slim even in the northern districts thickly populated by Vanniyars, the backbone of PMK.

MDMK leader Vaiko, Left parties and Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi leader Thol Thirumavalavan are the few leaders who have never expressed their intentions to compete for the CM’s chair. But Vaiko and Thirumavalavan will now have to reconsider their plans for an alternative front, which will be futile after Jayalalithaa’s comeback.

A Dravidian Tragedy

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