January 18, 2020
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All Losers, Any Which Way

If the AIADMK pulls out, a set of unpleasant choices faces all political formations in Tamil Nadu

All Losers, Any Which Way

THE bickering between the AIADMK and the BJP which threatens to upset existing equations in Tamil Nadu is certain to have a lasting impact on political parties in the state.According to observers, any realignment would erode the support base of various political groupings.

If the AIADMK pulls out, and the Congress decides it will have no truck with Jayalalitha, then the present allies of the AIADMK, the PMK, the MDMK and the TRC, would be caught in a bind. They will either have to pull out of the BJP against the wishes of their cadres or they have to lose the AIADMK's support, crucial for any electoral battle.

Their problems would mount if the DMK also chooses to offer support to the BJP—either directly or indirectly by abstaining from voting in the confidence motion. This is so because state-level politics of these parties is determined purely by their opposition to the DMK. To be seen even distantly as an ally of the DMK will erode their support base, which will be vertically split with one section opting to go with the DMK and the other with the AIADMK.

But the worst-case scenario for these parties is the potential alliance between the AIADMK and the Congress. The PMK and the MDMK have a hard-core Tamil nationalist cadre sympathetic towards the LTTE. Even their votebank, though not very sympathetic to the LTTE, are concerned about the Lankan Tamils and an alliance with the Congress will eat into their votes.

In the DMK, the problems are manifold. After floating the idea of collective rule in Delhi, the party feels it is trapped between two centralising agencies—the Congress and the BJP. Says a senior leader: "This is the golden jubilee year for us. At the bottom of our heart we know that if we align with the BJP, we are ruining the hard work of many years. But, how can we trust the Congress not to use the Jain Commission report against us?" The DMK also feels that if it aligns with the BJP, it will lose its Left, Dalit and minority support.

The case of the Tamil Maanila Congress is more telling. The newly-appointed TNCC chief, Tindivanam Ramamurthy, has made it clear that none of the TMC leaders enjoy any special relationship with 10, Janpath and that his mission is to recover all the Congress properties which the TMC leadership took with it when it parted from the parent party two years ago. The TMC's present strength stems from its perceived closeness to 10, Janpath. But with the exit of the former Tiruchirapalli MP L. Adaikalaraj and a steady exodus of cadres to the Congress, G.K. Moopanar is fast losing his grip over the TMC. While a section of the leadership feels that it should align with Sonia, they are intrigued by her enigmatic silence about the TNCC's public taunting of the TMC. The TMC's real fear is that if the Congress chooses to accept the support of the 18 AIADMK MPs, then Jayalalitha is likely to ensure that the three TMC MPs (including former finance minister P. Chidam-baram) are kept out of the government.

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