What are the electoral possibilities at this stage?

How Jayalalithaas hint at alliances in 2016 could change TNs political dynamics
news TN 2016 Monday, January 04, 2016 - 12:44

Speaking at her party’s General Council meeting held in Chennai on December 30, Jayalalithaa made a significant point about electoral alliances ahead of 2016. Having won a thumping majority in 2011 assembly polls and bulldozing opponents in 2014 Parliamentary elections, a statement from Jayalalithaa that she will take the “right decision” at the “right time” on alliances – which means she is keeping her options open – has given renewed vigour to electoral talks in Tamil Nadu.

Many would argue that she dropped more than just a hint about alliance. "There is no single strategy that can win all elections. Therefore, the AIADMK had an alliance with a few parties in 2009 Lok Sabha elections. In 2011, the Assembly elections were fought in the company of a few parties,” she said according to The Hindu, “In 2014 Lok Sabha elections, we contested alone and won 37 seats to become the third largest party in Lok Sabha. Likewise, I will take the right decision at the appropriate time.

That an alliance with the powerful incumbent is up for grabs in Tamil Nadu is an exciting new political development.

But what are her options, which are the parties which will bend over backwards to have an alliance with her, and which ones will she have to woo hard?

According to media reports, the BJP is already upbeat about a possible alliance with the AIADMK. An alliance with Jayalalithaa is perhaps the best thing which can happen to TN BJP, which has only one MP and no MLAs in the state. If they are able to strike a deal, then the BJP could win several MLA seats riding on the back of the AIADMK, which could be a major boost for the party’s fortunes in the state.

This could also make sense for the AIADMK. The optics of the combined firepower of Modi and Jayalalithaa is irresistible, and with the union government by her side, Jayalalithaa can make bold promises and simply drown out any criticism.

But if the BJP central leadership wishes to align with AIADMK, the BJP might have to join an alliance headed by Jayalalithaa rather than AIADMK becoming a part of NDA. This would however put the DMDK in a quandary. A part of NDA, Vijayakanth has been projecting himself as Amma's nemesis. As a result, DMDK, and the PMK too, cannot remain allies with the BJP. This could further mean that the opposition could consolidate and a rainbow alliance, possibly with DMK, could be formed against the AIADMK-BJP combine.

Another interesting development which raises questions about what Jayalalithaa has in mind is the recent suspension of party Deputy Propaganda Secretary Nanjil Sampath. If sources are to be believed, the suspension was for his critical remarks on MDMK chief Vaiko. Why is Jayalalithaa miffed at Sampath for taking on Vaiko?

If Jayalalithaa has her eyes set on Vaiko or other parties in the People’s Welfare Alliance – which includes Left parties and VCK – then this could be a formidable opposition to the DMK and its potential allies, and a significant blow to them before elections. Vaiko is known to shift his political allegiances with ease, and the Left too have allied with her in the past. But bringing them in would not be necessarily easy and the VCK might not be willing to go along. But so far, all members of the PWA, including Vaiko, have said that they will fight on a non-DMK, non-AIADMK front.

Further, as a fall-out of this, the DMDK and DMK could come together to fight Jayalalithaa tooth and nail.

Jayalalithaa’s statement also however means that she acknowledges the fact that she is not strong enough to fight on her own, which was pointed out by DMK’s MK Stalin after her speech. But, that she recognizes her political reality and is reaching out to others shows that she is politically prudent and not being whimsical. 

Come February, we will know for sure which side the wind will be blowing.