Chennai, Aug 13 (IANS) As the DMK prepares for life after its late President M. Karunanidhi, questions have cropped up whether the party and AIADMK should refashion their core strategy in the void left by him and his arch rival J. Jayalalithaa.
Ever since the AIADMK was floated by its founder and former Chief Minister M.G. Ramachandran (MGR), the one-point agenda for the party was to paint Karunanidhi as an ‘evil force’ and ‘corrupt’, which paid good dividends during the lifetime of MGR. Jayalalithaa stuck to the same line till her death in December 2016.
Now that both the titans of Tamil Nadu politics are gone, should their successors adopt a different style of politics?
AIADMK spokesperson and former Finance Minister C. Ponnaiyan, former AIADMK MP K.C. Palanisamy and political analyst Raveendharan Dhuraiswamy feel there is no such need.
However, John Arokiasamy, a political strategist who had worked for the PMK in Tamil Nadu during the last Assembly elections and for the Congress in Karnataka in the recent polls, says both AIADMK and the DMK have to reorient their strategies.
“I see a need for both AIADMK and DMK to reposition themselves and require ideology and leadership approach re-engineering,” says Arokiasamy.
Ponnaiyan said: “Our party founder MGR was against family control of DMK and corruption and floated the AIADMK. The condition in DMK has not changed now.”
According to him, the AIADMK was united behind Chief Minister K. Palaniswami and Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam.
Concurring with him is former AIADMK MP Palanisamy, who is now not with the party. “The AIADMK was against family rule and corruption. When MGR floated AIADMK, Karunanidhi was the DMK leader.”
Dhuraiswamy said the political narrative in Tamil Nadu would be Palaniswami versus Stalin. “To strengthen his vote base, Chief Minister Palaniswami will harp against Karunanidh’s family in DMK (son Stalin, daughter Kanimozhi and grand nephew Dayanidhi Maran).”
“Palaniswami will fix Stalin as his main target. Stalin too has to target Palaniswami as he cannot consider him below his stature,” he said.
Dhuraiswamy pointed out that Stalin had already started targeting Palaniswami by welcoming the income tax (IT) raids on the Chief Minister’s relatives.
However, Stalin had said the IT raids on relatives of the now-jailed Sasikala were selective, a sign that the former was hoping that Dinakaran would bring down the state government.
An AIADMK leader who did not want to be named noted that the party’s control was with Panneerselvam while the government control was with Palaniswami and the two have no conflict. The party would turn assertive in the days to come.
“The IT raids on Palaniswami’s relatives, refusal of Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to meet Pannerselvam while meeting former MP Palanisamy, who was sacked from the party, did not go well with AIADMK. Now one cannot say AIADMK is controlled by BJP,” Dhuraiswamy added.
Giving a contrarian view was political strategist Arokiasamy who said, “First, AIADMK has to re-engineer itself to overcome the survival threat since it is perceived as a party led by a weak leadership in the indirect clutches of BJP.
“The party has to face the challenge of multiple opposition forces and new leaders like Anbumani Ramadoss, Kamal Haasan, T.T.V. Dinakaran, Rajinikanth apart from DMK and Stalin. These new leaders are stronger in personality and relevant to connect the masses as well as the new generation voters equally.”
According to Arokiasamy, the AIADMK was facing the threat of survival unlike DMK which was intact and had strong frontline leaders besides Stalin who himself comes with the pedigree of Karunanidhi brand of politics after 40 years of grooming under him.
He said the DMK was at cross roads and had to strike a fine balance between the aggressive ideals represented by a formidable leader like Karunanidhi and the aspirations of the new generation millenial voters to whom ideological agression was a thing of the past.
He said the DMK should continue its ideological fight against Hindi imposition and encroachment of federal autonomy. IT have to tone down its hardline atheist stance – considered anti-Hindu– and its perceived minority-appeasement policy in the face of majoritarian politics on the rise in the country.