The Rajya Sabha electoral scene in Tamil Nadu has proved right the oft-quoted statement that one week in politics is a long period. It is also a pointer to the shape of things to come during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
Till about 10 days ago, for six Rajya Sabha seats, there were five candidates of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), besides the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and the Communist Party of India (CPI) making efforts to retain their seat each.
But, when the deadline for withdrawal of nominations lapsed last week, what was barely anticipated became a reality. For the sixth seat, there is a fight between the DMK and the DMDK, even as the AIADMK later pulled out its fifth candidate from the race in favour of the CPI’s D. Raja.
“It’s a well-planned strategy on the part of the ruling party,” says political commentator Gnani Sankaran, responding to a query whether the present scene is an outcome of the AIADMK’s actions (putting up five candidates originally, only to withdraw one subsequently) or an accidental development.
He feels that the AIADMK’s larger plan appears to be leaving behind much-reduced space for the Opposition in the Lok Sabha elections. With the DMDK experiencing many of its MLAs switching loyalty to the AIADMK, the bargaining power of Mr Vijayakant’s party will stand reduced. That way, even the combined Opposition including the Congress may not be in a position to give a tough fight to the ruling party.
Secondly, the Congress support for the DMK nominee Kanimozhi, who is facing trial in the 2G spectrum allocation case, can become a major talking point for AIADMK general secretary and Chief Minister Jayalalithaa in her campaign for the Lok Sabha polls. There is a qualitative difference between the Congress supporting any other DMK candidate and the national party favouring Ms. Kanimozhi, against whom the Congress-led government slapped the case, Mr Sankaran points out.
However, as far as the AIADMK is concerned, the present scene is a pointer to the likelihood of Ms Jayalalithaa heading a non-Congress, non-BJP formation at the time of Lok Sabha elections. Referring to the AIADMK’s withdrawal of its fifth candidate for the CPI, Nanjil Sampath, the party’s deputy propaganda secretary, says his leader has demonstrated a spirit of accommodation. He also notes that the development came after Ms Jayalalithaa went on record in New Delhi that the AIADMK would go it alone in the 2014 Lok Sabha general election and aim to secure all the 40 seats in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.
On Wednesday, the DMK candidate, Kanimozhi, visited Sathyamurthy Bhavan and thanked Congress leaders for their support to her candidature. She was accompanied by DMK parliamentary party leader T. R. Baalu, MP T.K.S. Elangovan and party whip Chakrapani.
She met TNCC president B. S. Gnanadesikan and the five party MLAs -- K. Gopinath, N.R. Rengarajan, S. John Jacob, J.G. Prince and S. Vijayadharini. “I thanked AICC leader Sonia Gandhi and others for extending support,” Ms Kanimozhi told reporters.