The election dates are finally out – and there are about 70 days left for Tamil Nadu to vote. As it stands, it is also considered likely that Tamil Nadu will see a multi-pronged fight this year, but here's why these 70 days could be a real drag - the late polling date leaves more time for parties to haggle over alliances.
Political experts say that the long wait to the polling date could prove a litmus test for the opposition parties, and will leave the ruling party in a very comfortable position.
“They’ve really been given a long rope this time, because they’re going to fight it out alone. The PWA is also at an advantage and doesn’t need to worry about alliance talks. It’s time for opposition parties to buck up and decide,” says Gnani Sankaran.
Quicker decisions on alliances would mean more campaigning time for the alliance as a whole, only campaigning for the candidates will have to wait until nominations are filed. Gnani feels this could be a major handicap for DMK-Congress and BJP. “They’re going to lose valuable time. By the time the AIADMK does 2-3 campaign rounds, the other parties will just barely finish one if they haggle.”
VCK General Secretary D Ravikumar believes an alliances will be finalized by next week. Once DMDK has finalized its position, things will clear up, he says. “The desperation of larger parties for a certain party to join them could work against them. Like last time, the alliance making and breaking could go on till April. We are thankfully at a major advantage because our priorities don’t lie in bargaining but on building a solid third front to lead the state.”
The DMDK is playing the bargaining game to the hilt, and has given no final word on the alliances. But all parties are watching the DMDK Chief Vijayakanth closely to see what his next move will be, especially considering they now have a lot of time in their hands to choose, according to Professor Ramu Manivannan, who teaches Political Science at the Madras University. “I think the DMDK will make and break at least two alliances this time, and they aren’t ones to compromise. The ruling party is definitely favoured here by the late polling date.”
Meanwhile, sources in the DMK say that they are confident with the DMDK joining hands with them, but are also preparing for the long wait. "We realize that we need them, but the demands must be reasonable. Beyond a point, we will start preparing to fight the elections with Congress alone," said a DMK source on conditions of anonymity.
This date is also going to leave way for more lobbying, feels Gnani. “If DMK and Congress discuss seat-sharing and allots constituencies and DMDK decides to join them, but insists on a constituency that has already been allotted, the alliance can break down, and all this can eat up time,” he says. According to Professor Mannivanan, “A rope longer than needed means, more parties can misuse it and it can work against their own good.”