Tamil Nadu

Unequal partners in a political marriage

As political parties in Tamil Nadu resort to pre-election posturing, for the first time in many years smaller parties have set their eyes on sharing the spoils of power by insisting on a post-poll coalition arrangement.

However, DMK treasurer M.K. Stalin has upped the ante claiming that the people of Tamil Nadu were averse to a coalition government. To buttress his stand, he has cited the defeat of the DMK-Congress combine in the distant past of 1980.

Can Tamil Nadu continue to have political marriages on the eve of elections sans honeymoon? Only once – in 2006 – did the State come close to the possibility of seeing a coalition government. But the DMK, way short of a majority, managed to keep its allies away from the governance structure for five years due to deft political manoeuvring by then Chief Minister M Karunanidhi.

Incidentally, while retaining their supremacy in State politics, the DMK and AIADMK have been rather successful in obtaining plum portfolios in coalition governments at the Centre.

DMK principal secretary Duraimurugan contended that while the people of the State had doubts over the durability of a coalition government, the political situation also so far had not warranted it. But things could change in the future. “I will not say that it (coalition) may not happen in the future.

The question is who will bell the cat,” asks the veteran DMK leader.

A.R. Venkatachalapathy, Professor of Madras Institute of Development Studies, felt that Mr Stalin was merely posturing. “He is trying to act tough because an announcement about accommodating allies in government will amount to conceding that the DMK is weak,” he argued.

Viduthalai Chiruthaikal Katchi leader Thol Thirumavalavan, who has been vocally pushing for a coalition, has taken the stand that shared governance alone would empower political parties representing the subalterns.

Varied interests

Contending that forming a coalition was inevitable with the emergence of political parties articulating varied interests, senior TMC leader Peter Alphonse opined that a single party cannot address the complex problems faced by society today.

“Presence of various political parties in a Cabinet will lead to useful discussions and converge on a point. A coalition government would have certainly prevented destruction and depletion of natural resources such as river sand and other minerals,” he claimed.

Writer and political analyst A. Marx, however, is of the view that only an election based on proportional representation would ensure a place for all political parties in decision making.

“In democracy, when a political party is equipped with absolute majority to form a government, it cannot be expected to accommodate others in the Cabinet.

But a major party must give space to its allies if it does not have the numbers to form the government on its own,” he said.


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Printable version | Jul 30, 2021 12:10:21 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/unequal-partners-in-a-political-marriage/article7856893.ece

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