Politics

After Jaya Acquittal, Smaller Tamil Parties Feel the Heat

Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam president Vijayakanth and his party MLAs seen here outside the Tamil Nadu Assembly in 2011 [Credit: PTI]

Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam president Vijayakanth and his party MLAs seen here outside the Tamil Nadu Assembly in 2011 [Credit: PTI]

Chennai: After the initial shock and disbelief which engulfed opposition parties in Tamil Nadu following Jayalalithaa’s acquittal in her disproportionate assets case, it is clear that the biggest losers from the verdict are the state’s smaller political parties and not the ruling AIADMK’s principal opponent, the DMK.
If anything, the judgment has helped Karunanidhi’s Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam by forcing the smaller parties to scale down their earlier ambition of forming a third front to challenge the dominance of the DMK and Jaya’s All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam.
The only source of solace for these parties, which have been victims of the two-party system in Tamil Nadu, is the controversy over Justice Kumaraswamy’s calculations, with prosecutors claiming the Karnataka HC judge had made arithmetic errors in calculating Jayalalithaa’s income and and expenses — thereby underestimating the size of her unaccounted assets.
PMK leader Ramadoss has even sent representatives to Karnataka to meet Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and speed up the appeal against Jayalalithaa’s acquittal.
Even though the PMK has earned goodwill with its consistent stand on various issues concerning Tamil Nadu, its presence is limited to some dozen districts and it is seen as a party of the Vanniyar community. While Ramadoss insists his aim is to put an end to the five decade-old rule of the two Dravidian parties, he has yet to identity political allies that can help him realise his dreams. What he has today as partners are caste-outfits masquerading as political parties with very little support base.The HC judgment has also dashed the hopes of actor-turned-politician Vijayakant and his Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK). Despite securing the second highest number of seats in the Tamil Nadu Assembly with 29 MLAs, Vijaykant, who is Leader of Opposition, is just a shadow of his former self. His party fought the 2011 assembly election as an ally of Jayalalithaa but broke with her soon after.  A group of DMDK MLAs has since switched its loyalty to the AIADMK.
Vijayakant is now almost friendless in Tamil Nadu politics. In an attempt to make his presence felt, he mobilised opposition leaders to make a representation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on various issues concerning the state. His visit to the Gopalapuram residence of DMK leader M. Karunanidhi before Jaya’s acquittal spurred speculation that he would not mind joining the DMK alliance even though he has been highly critical of the DMK in the past. With the judgment now narrowing his options, he may have no choice but to go with the DMK in next year’s assembly elections.
Neither Vijayakant nor Ramadoss can afford to experiment much longer. Despite their posturing, both of them have to cobble together a winnable alliance or be part of a larger grouping which will secure them some seats. This will also apply to the Tamil Manila Congress, re-launched recently by former Union Minister GK Vasan.The only odd one out is the CPI (M), whose new political line makes it impossible for the party’s state unit to align either with the DMK or the AIADMK.  In the past, the Left party had attempted to form an alliance with Vijayakant, but it did not produce the desired effects.

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