As Stalin’s mass-contact hits its final phase, a glimmer of hope emerges within the DMK

What is most reassuring for Stalin is that he has managed to ruffle feathers in the ADMK. Unless he was making the right noises, Jayalalithaa would not bother.
As Stalin’s mass-contact hits its final phase, a glimmer of hope emerges within the DMK
As Stalin’s mass-contact hits its final phase, a glimmer of hope emerges within the DMK
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As MK Stalin and his team hit the road for the third and final phase of his much talked about ‘Namakku Naame’ journey, political watchers, journalists, bureaucrats and heavyweights within the DMK are asking one question - is his strategy working?

Using well-oiled propaganda machinery and working with a well-planned strategy, Stalin has indeed managed to garner enough newsprint and airtime. Stalin is making use of both social media and the ongoing TV news media boom in the state. Irrespective of the reports being positive or negative, there has been regular reportage on his journey through the districts of the state.

Not all the commentary has been kind to him. Right here on TNM, writers have questioned his strategy and remarked that the sheen on his campaign in wearing off. Is this good enough to take on the mighty Jayalalithaa? There has been a broad consensus on a point-blank ‘No’.

Stalin’s team however claims that those criticising his campaign are asking for too much too early. First understand why this is being done, they say.

For Stalin, this was never about mounting a major attack on the Jayalalithaa government, which is why from day-one they have been saying that this is not an ‘election campaign’ of any sort, but a ‘mass contact-program’. Having understood the lack of momentum against the Jayalalithaa government, Stalin knew that his first step was to test the waters, build the momentum without getting into a full-fledged campaign.

At this stage, all Stalin wants to do is get ‘first hand inputs’ from people, and give the whole show a personal touch. His party-men are now asking publicly, “Stalin can go to each and every district and speak to people personally, can Jayalalithaa do it?” Also, this helps Stalin to gauge the pulse of the people and strategize ahead accordingly. There is also a feeling within Stalin’s team that they must focus on hyper-local issues at this stage.

One more important aim of the Namakku Naame campaign is to consolidate and re-energize the party. One cannot blame the party cadres for being less than enthused after the drubbing they got in Assembly and General elections, and it is important for Stalin to first get his men going.

That definitely seemed to have happened to some extent. Police intelligence sources who have been keeping a close watch on Stalin say that this has definitely had a positive impact within the party. The cadre is enthusiastic about a new leader emerging and there is little confusion over who is the next big leader in the party after M Karunanidhi. It is time to leave differences behind and work hard, is the feeling within.

The reaction from the people too has been encouraging, say members of the Stalin camp. Their impression is that the crowd-turnout has been good in most of the places, and the strategists insist that there has been no attempt to bring in a crowd just to fill up the seats. Apparently, more than 2 lakh written petitions have been submitted to Stalin so far through this campaign, and he still has one more phase left.

What is most reassuring for Stalin however is that he has managed to ruffle feathers in the AIADMK. If his journey had been a complete failure, there would have been no response from his political opponents at all, and that has not been the case.

Initially there was no reaction from the AIADMK. But as the Stalin juggernaut rolled on, they realised they could not keep quiet. Something had to be said and done.

A clear sign of that was Madurai City Corporation council, under an AIADMK Mayor, passing a resolution barring Stalin’s entry into Madurai during his tour stating that it would cause disturbances in the city.

Among the tools of Stalin’s program were the LED-TV-fixed mini vans which were being operated by his team. Ahead of his visit, these vans would arrive at a particular spot and play a well-produced, cinematic video of Stalin’s message to the people and the problems people face in the state. Sensing that these vans could indeed be creating the desired impact, the TN government rolled out their own LED-TV vans which talked of their achievements.

Not just that, alongside the Namakku Naame campaign, the AIADMK stuck banners of Jayalalithaa and printed pamphlets of the achievements of the government. All of this was seemingly done as a reaction to Stalin’s campaign. Further, Stalin’s visit to the temple also gained political traction only after the ADMK mouthpiece wrote about it.

For Stalin, this is an indication that he is on the right path.

Even so, there is broad consensus on the fact that a lot more needs to be done. The ghosts of 2G are still hovering around and there is no issue with which the DMK can grab the ADMK by its horns to bring it down. Will he be able to do it? Wait and watch, don’t judge so early, is the feeling within the DMK.

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