news Wednesday, November 26, 2014 - 05:30
Sameera Ahmed| The News Minute| October 5, 2014| 5.00 pm IST As former AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa cools her heels in the Parappana Agrahara prison in Bengaluru, political operatives in other parties in Tamil Nadu have woken up from slumber, having received terrible drubbings at the hands of the iron lady in the past two elections in 2014 and 2011. The conviction of the former Chief Minister has opened up a sea of opportunities for other Dravidian parties and national parties trying to improve their standing in the state. Amma’s arch rival, the DMK is keeping its cards close to its chest, and has reportedly chosen to be cautious in its reaction. Highly placed sources in the DMK have told TheNewsMinute that they do not want to contribute to the sympathy being generated for Jayalalithaa by celebrating her incarceration. DMK, it seems, has learned from the past, when Jayalalithaa swept back to power having spent time in jail for the color TV scam. However, the absence of a clear leader in the AIAMDK camp without Jayalalithaa at its helm gives the DMK a huge advantage. Even if the DMK remains quiet and in a non-celebratory mood after the verdict, Karunanidhi’s ambition to give one final electoral blow to Jayalalithaa, and Stalin’s long-standing dream to become the Chief Minister will drive the party to make the best use of the existing situation. However, internal differences between party’s first family could have a bearing on their prospects. The party which will hope to benefit the maximum from the conviction is the Bharatiya Janata Party. In the wake of Jayalalithaa’s conviction and the DMK’s internal sloth, it aims to be the new alternative, attempting to induce fresh thinking in Dravidian politics on the back of Modi’s phenomenal success. Pon Radhakrishnan, the only MP from Tamil Nadu at the Centre was the sole winner of a BJP seat in the Kanyakumari district during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. It was one of the only two seats not won by the AIADMK, the other being won by the PMK which was a BJP ally. With the appointment of Tamilisai Soundarajan as the leader of the BJP unit in Tamil Nadu and feelers doing the rounds of roping in Rajinikanth to be the face of the BJP in the state, the party will hope to go all guns ablaze to the 2016 Assembly elections. For Vijaykanth who wrestled the position as Leader of Opposition in the state after years of DMK-AIADMK rule, the conviction will give the DMDK party more opportunity to eat into the ruling party’s vote share. The nine year-old party has slowly but consistently worked itself up the ladder and garnered 10.3 per cent in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, which is no mean feat. The party went on to win 8 per cent of the vote share, winning 29 seats in the 2011 Assembly elections in an alliance with the AIADMK which soon fell out. Even in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections where the AIADMK won 37 of the total 39 seats in the state, the DMDK has come in the runners-up spot consistently eating into the AIADMK vote bank. However, Vijayakanth aka Captain will look to fare better in the coming years after an almost dismal performance getting only 5.1 per cent of the vote share in the 2014 LS elections, almost half of what it got in 2009. For the Congress which was reduced to a whimper during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections when it won not even one of the 39 seats in Tamil Nadu, the AIADMK supremo’s conviction will be a chance for the party to look for a comeback in the state. The party has seen a steep fall in its vote-share since 2004 when it won almost 15 per cent of the votes emerging the third largest party after the DMK, its ally, and the AIADMK. However, in 2014, the party which broke up a 10-year alliance with the DMK after strains over the Sri Lankan Tamil issue and the 2G scam, the party could win only a paltry 3.4 per cent of the votes in the state. Lately, P. Chidambaram, party leader and former finance minister said that Congress could fill the vacuum that the AIADMK has created. A party that no one wanted to ally with in the 2014 May Lok Sabha election while its rivals, the BJP formed a six-party alliance, the Congress will hope to make a comeback in the state with the DMK which sees a renewed chance in light of the latest conviction, although not many in DMK are looking forward to a renewed relationship with the Congress. As for the AIADMK which has gone no holds barred in its public display of grief and protests against the arrest of its leader, the party can only hope to benefit from the mass sympathy wave that the conviction has brought along with it. While the future is uncertain without the presence of a strong leader at its helm, the party will hope to ride out the 2016 elections on this issue. If Jayalalithaa is not able to secure an acquittal by 2016, these parties may even look at coming together in a grand alliance, to fight against a party that till today remains the most popular in the state.

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