Modi factor may have no effect on the parties
The Narendra Modi factor could be looming large over the electoral scene at the all-India level, but in Tamil Nadu, neither of the two main Dravidian parties seems too keen on a pre-poll alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for fear of alienating the minorities.
Instead, both the AIADMK and the DMK are vying with each other in organising or participating in Christmas celebrations in addition to the traditional practice of hosting Iftar parties.
“They are more concerned about the Assembly polls in 2016 than the Lok Sabha election next year. Even if the BJP gets a chance to form the government with the support of either of the Dravidian parties next year, the party from Tamil Nadu may not seek berths in the Cabinet.
Both these parties will badly need minority votes in the Assembly elections,” said former Congress MP Peter Alphonse.
On different occasions in the past, the ruling AIADMK and its arch-rival DMK have joined hands with the BJP and joined the government led by the national party. The assertive posturing by Muslims in the wake of the Babri Masjid demolition in 1992 and the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Forcible Conversion of Religion (TNPFCR) Act enacted by the AIADMK government in 2002 proved to be turning points in minority politics in the State. The former incident led to the formation of radical Islamist outfits, and these new groups refused to be appendages of the Dravidian parties.
“The minorities clearly expressed their anger against the AIADMK in the 2004 Lok Sabha polls and again in the 2006 Assembly election. The impact can be seen from the fact that the BJP was left in the lurch in the 2009 LS polls in Tamil Nadu,” said M.H. Jawahirullah, MLA of the Manithaneya Makkal Katchi (MMK).
Mr. Alphonse said historically, minorities in Tamil Nadu used to vote for the Congress before switching their loyalty to the Dravidian movement.
Narendra Subramanian, in his book ‘Ethnicity and Populist Mobilization,’ argues that the DMK became more closely associated with Muslims because it allied with the Muslim League from 1962 to 1974. This alliance was close enough for the two party organisations to become virtually indistinguishable by the mid-1960s in areas like Begumpur (a Muslim locality in Dindigul).
“In fact, it was Quaid-e-Milleth, leader of the Muslim League, who brought together the DMK and its arch-rival Rajaji in the 1967 elections. But this close association also resulted in the Muslim League losing its own identity and the party failing to prioritise the requirements of Muslims,” said Mr. Jawahirullah.
Mr. Alphonse said that even though both Muslims and Christians closely identified themselves with the DMK, Christians, especially fishermen, threw their weight behind M.G.Ramachandran, when he launched the AIADMK.
“The relationship got strained when Ms. Jayalalithaa introduced the TNPFCR Act. Today, there is awareness among the minorities and they will vote only for a secular formation. The reservations the Dravidian parties have about aligning with the BJP reiterate the assertion of the minorities,” he said.