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Tamil Nadu and Lok Sabha Election 2014
Monday March 24, 2014 2:01 PM, Syed Ali Mujtaba,

There are some significant developments taking place in Tamil Nadu in the run up to the Lok Sabha elections 2014. The BJP has stitched a six-party alliance in the state and has opened the floodgates for the smaller parties to test the electoral waters, thus challenging the supremacy of the DMK and the AIADMK, the dominant political parties in the state.

To some it may sound a new era in the politics of Tamil Nadu, where for the first time a three cornered contest is going to be witnessed in the state, others however are skeptical about it. There are 39 seats at stake.

The BJP has hemmed the alliance with the DMDK led by actor turned politician Vijaykant, the MDMK led by Vaiko, the PMK led Ramados, IJK led by T.R.Pachamuthu and KMDK led by Eshwaran.

These parties have reached an understanding on the seat sharing with the BJP contesting on 8 seats, the DMDK on 14, the PMK on 8, the MDMK on 7, and the IJK and the KMDK one seat each.

The alliance looks formidable on paper but will it prove to be a "game changer" in the Lok Sabha election 2014 is something that's being debated.

The new 'rainbow coalition' that has emerged in Tamil Nadu is being considered with some landmarks in the history of party politics of the state.

The first was in 1968, when the DMK led by Anna Durai steamrolled to power ending the Congress supremacy in Tamil Nadu.

The second was in 1971, when superstar MG Ramachandran, broke away from the DMK and formed AIADMK and challenged its supremacy. Since then the AIADMK has come to power alternatively in the state.

The politics in the state since then has been frozen with DMK and AIADMK as the only choice before the electorates. It is only in 2014 Lok Sabha election that a third alternative is being offered to the people. This is a significant development in the state.

However, sewing up a 'formidable alliance', is a sufficient enough to change the contours of the politics in the state is something being debated.

In the 2009 Lok Sabha election, the joint vote share of the DMDK, the PMK, the MDMK and the BJP was 22.7 per cent. The DMDK went alone and had polled 10.3 per cent. Two other parties now in the alliance were then part of the AIADMK-led alliance. The BJP got a 2.3 per cent vote share in the state.

In comparison to the parties that have now aligned with the BJP, the two main Dravidian parties the DMK and AIADM robustly held their vote shares in the state and the Congress maintained its silent support-base in the Lok Sabha elections 2009. The vote share of the DMK was 25.09, the AIADMK 22.88 and the Congress 15.03 per cent. Added to them were the left parties with its presence in the state.

This simple arithmetic, when extrapolated to 2014 general election puts the new rainbow coalition in some perspective. There is the new addition, the Aam Admi Party in the state as well. In such a scenario whether the six party alliances can change the ground realities is something that remains to be seen.

Since last forty years or so even as the two Dravidian parties the DMK and AIADMK ruled Tamil Nadu in succession, the state has seen the emergence of some new political parties.

The MDMK founded by Goplasawmy alias Vaiko emerged after breaking away from the DMK. The party has strong Dravidian roots and is opposed to "Hindi, Hindu, Hindustan" ideas of the BJP. Come every election, its leader Vaiko a master in stitching alliance is having a new alliance. He had previously been with the DMK and the AIDMK, even though the leader of the AIADMK had imprisoned him on sedition charges booking under POTA.

The PMK led by Ramdos has emerged primarily on the Vanyar community vote bank in the state. This mid ranking caste group has been suppressed for a long time. It is the politics of ballot box democracy that has offered this caste the opportunity to rise up through electoral politics in the social ladder of the state. This caste group has presence in certain areas of Tamil Nadu and is a highly cohesive group. This party is driven by predominantly caste equations and is opposed to the Hindutva politics of the BJP.

The latest party to come on the center stage of Tamil Nadu politics is the DMDK led by Vijaykant. The actor turned politician is trying to ape the MGR strategy, cashing on his star status in the state. He calls himself "black MGR" and is popularly known as captain. The DMDK is also a Dravidian party and is highly regional in character.

The other political parties that are in the six party alliances are also new entrant and so are politically insignificant in the state.

What appears is that there is a marriage of convince in this alliance. Each political party wanted a bigger political space that was denied to them by the dominant Dravidian parties earlier whenever it came in alliance with them.

It is now the BJP that is providing them the opportunity by giving them enough number of seats in 2014 Lok Sabha election to test the electoral waters in the state.

It is not the love for the BJP or its Prime Ministerial candidate Narender Modi that has brought these parties closer to the national party but it is only the opportunity to contest from more number of constituencies that has sealed the alliance.

The other factor that may have driven this alliance is the monetary factor. This factor remains hidden from the public but play a important role at the time of elections. Mostly, the smaller parties demand a hefty sum from the national parties as a condition to be part of the alliance. They demand it for the running their election campaign. It is a matter of bargaining power of the party concerned that settles the deal. Since the national party, is in desperate need for regional alliance, the smaller parties make a killing, as a price to dance to its tunes. This face of Indian democracy still hidden and election commission has no clue about it.

The new coalition has been formed in Tamil Nadu with the BJP as the pivot has huge differences among the members of the coalition. There is lot of heartburning in the PMK camp. The PMK considers DMDK an electoral dwarf is not happy with 8 seats, while the DMDK has been given 14 seats in the state. It is also unhappy about not getting the entire Vanniyar belt seats that is spread across northwest of Tamil Nadu.

There is quite a love lost between the Vaiko-led MDMK and Vijayakant-led the DMDK. Both the parties are competing for the same political space. They have been "wary cousins" for long, and do not like to see the rise of each other as it would be at each other's cost.

So the hemming up of a formidable alliance does not mean a big change in the politics of Tamil Nadu. The state contributing a big chunk of seats to the NDA's national kitty looks uncertain. The electoral battle is wide open in Tamil Nadu in the Lok Sabha election 2014.


Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted with

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