Tamil Nadu

Palaniswami keeps AIADMK relevant

By leading the AIADMK to a decent performance in the Assembly election, party co-coordinator Edappadi K. Palaniswami appears to have proved that he may have been an accidental Chief Minister but has emerged in his own right.

Though the party had a dual leadership, with O. Panneerselvam acting as coordinator, Mr. Palaniswami almost single handedly shouldered the responsibility of campaigning for the AIADMK-led alliance. As it has emerged as a strong Opposition party, he has ensured that the AIADMK remains a dominant player in Tamil Nadu, contrary to the predictions that the ‘two leaves’ would wither in the absence of a tall leader like Jayalalithaa.

For a party that was rooted in the film world charisma of its founder M.G. Ramachandran and his successor Jayalalithaa, the transition for Mr. Palaniswami was not easy. “He has institutionalised the party, which was always personality-centric. He has disproved that if Sasikala or anyone goes out, the party will disintegrate. He has proved the AIADMK will remain with or without any strong leader. The party structure remained intact even after some MLAs went with T.T.V. Dhinakaran after they were denied nomination,” says political analyst P. Ramajayam.

Observers say the DMK’s campaign, though anchored by president M.K. Stalin, was shared by other leaders such as Lok Sabha members Kanimozhi and Dayanidhi Maran and youth wing leader Udhayanidhi Stalin.

The AIADMK’s comeback, with an estimated 66 seats, after its drubbing in the 2019 Lok Sabha election has been similar to its recovery under Jayalalithaa in 2006 after a rout in the 2004 Lok Sabha election.

Mr. Palaniswami projecting himself as a farmer, waiving off farm loans from cooperative institutions and implementing 7.5% reservation for government school students in medical education and 10.5% reservation for the Vanniyars in education and employment, among other measures, persuaded several sections not to write the AIADMK off.

This election has also shown that sections of the prominent caste groups such as Goundars, Mukkulathors and Vanniyars have not dumped the AIADMK yet. Mr. Palaniswami has also disproved that any party which has the BJP in its alliance would not secure the support of the people of Tamil Nadu.

The feeble anti-incumbency sentiments apart, the AIADMK’s election promises such as provision of six free LPG cylinders a year to every ration card-holder and washing machines and the handling of COVID-19 appear to have helped to cushion the party’s defeat.

Another factor is that in the western region, from where Mr. Palaniswami hails, the AIADMK has maintained its hold with all bigwigs retaining their seats.

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Printable version | Jun 20, 2021 12:15:17 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/palaniswami-keeps-aiadmk-relevant/article34468313.ece

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