Tamil Nadu politics, dominated by the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) for the last 40 years, has some space for a third force.
Acknowledging that there has been some space in Tamil Nadu for parties other than the two major players, a senior DMK office bearer, however, hastens to add that such parties have not been able to sustain on their own.
Referring to the Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK), he says when Vijayakant launched the DMDK in 2005, he had projected his party as an alternative to the DMK and the AIADMK. But, in the 2011 Assembly elections, he had to align with the AIADMK.
A DMK functionary from Ariyalur points out that it is not that easy to extrapolate the Delhi experience as the AAP’s success has become a reality essentially thanks to compact geography of the Capital.
Echoing this opinion, C.R. Kesavan, member of the All India Congress Committee (AICC), says that one also has to consider diverse socio, economic, political and cultural factors of Tamil Nadu.
A leader of the AIADMK says voters of Tamil Nadu are not known for removing suddenly established players from the political field.
M.G. Devasahayam, former civil servant and who ran an intensive campaign for ethical voting during the 2011 Assembly polls, believes that perhaps, Tamil Nadu has the widest space in the country for an alternative force but the key question is how it is going to be filled. There are some groups and individuals who aspire to fill the space but they have “their own agenda.”
Mr. Kesavan recalls that in 2006, when the Lok Paritran party, formed by IIT alumni, contested in seven constituencies of the State, there was some public curiosity.
The State’s politics is persona-based and “you need to have a strong local person who symbolises the party here,” a point conceded by the senior DMK functionary as well as R. Thangathurai, who runs a Tamil magazine and who had worked for the AIADMK in many elections. “More than ideology or politics, it is the popularity of the individual that counts,” says Mr Thangathurai. Comparing E.V. K. Sampath with M.G. Ramachandran, he says both left the DMK at different points of time and Sampath was quite strong in terms of putting forth political theories but it was MGR who succeeded eventually in creating a lasting rival organisation to the DMK.
Deepak Raj of the State unit of the AAP says though his party organised agitations on various issues in the last one year, it is getting noticed now in the State after its success in Delhi.