Tamil Nadu

The simmering debate over Tamil Nadu’s political vacuum

On home turf: Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami during a campaign in Salem.

On home turf: Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami during a campaign in Salem.  

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Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami has dismissed veteran film actor Rajinikanth’s assertion that the State is “still in need of a right leader”

The talk of a vacuum in political leadership following the deaths of former Chief Ministers M. Karunanidhi and Jayalalithaa has surfaced again in Tamil Nadu’s political discourse, with veteran film actor Rajinikanth emphatically reiterating the point a few days ago.

The position of Mr. Rajinikanth, who is aspiring to enter politics ahead of the 2021 Assembly poll, was that the State was “still in need of a right leader.” On Monday, former Union Minister and BJP leader Pon. Radhakrishnan echoed the position of the actor. Chief Minister and AIADMK co-coordinator Edappadi K. Palaniswami has, however, dismissed Mr. Rajinikanth’s assertion and said there was no need to get concerned about the observation of someone who had nothing to do with politics.

Parties’ views

The DMK feels that the talk has no relevance, as M.K. Stalin has become president of the party, while the AIADMK is of the view that the results of by-elections to the Vikravandi and Nanguneri Assembly constituencies have made the issue irrelevant.

Justifying the film actor’s argument, C.K. Thamilarasan, president of the India Kudiarasu Katchi, said any close look at the way the DMK and the AIADMK conducted themselves would reinforce Mr. Rajinikanth’s point.

Besides, the present positions held by Mr. Palaniswami as Chief Minister and Mr. Stalin as Leader of Opposition were based on the outcome of the 2016 Assembly election, when people were called upon to choose between Jayalalithaa and Karunanidhi. This was why the issue of vacuum was finding resonance with the people, Mr. Thamilarasan argued. He added that at the time of the 2019 Lok Sabha poll, the DMK and the AIADMK leaders sought votes in the State not for themselves but in the names of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The DMK feels that the talk of a political vacuum has no relevance, as M.K. Stalin has become president of the part.

The DMK feels that the talk of a political vacuum has no relevance, as M.K. Stalin has become president of the part.  

 

‘Reactive leaders’

G. Palanithurai, academician, is of the view that the talk of vacuum retained relevance because there is a popular perception that the present leaders, unlike Jayalalithaa and Karunanidhi, are not able to wield great influence at the Centre and change the narrative of political discourse. “They seem to be reactive and not proactive and imaginative, which were the qualities of the two former Chief Ministers,” the academician observes.

As far as the DMK and the AIADMK are concerned, the issue is one of cornering them.

I. Paranthaman, spokesperson of the DMK, said his party’s standing is being sought to be undermined, whereas Kovai Sathyan of the ruling party felt that the issue keeps coming up again and again as the DMK wants to make it appear as if its political battle is with the BJP and not with the AIADMK.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2020 10:04:07 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/the-simmering-debate-over-tamil-nadus-political-vacuum/article29961759.ece

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