With the nine districts of Tamil Nadu going for rural local body polls in two phases on October 6 and October 9, the state is witnessing a tough political battle between the AIADMK led front and the DMK led front.
The polls are wide open and both the fronts have a point to prove. While the DMK front which is in the saddle in Tamil Nadu wants to establish that the 2021 victory was not a fluke, the AIADMK wants to regain lost ground and establish its supremacy in these rural local body elections and hence prove its presence with a bang.
The AIADMK has however received a jolt even before the polls in the northern parts of Tamil Nadu as the powerful Vanniyar political party, the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) which was part of the AIADMK front suddenly announced that it would go it alone in the ensuing polls. While the PMK has openly announced that lack of time to decide on seat-sharing led to its decision to contest the polls alone, sources in the party told IANS that the party was miffed at the AIADMK not pushing the case of its leader, Dr Anbumani Ramadoss for getting a cabinet berth in the recent expansion at the Centre.
The PMK contesting alone in the northern districts will affect the prospects of the AIADMK.
In the southern districts of Tamil Nadu, the recent beheading of four people as part of a caste war has affected the ruling dispensation and the people’s ire is directed at the failure of the state police and its intelligence wing as the major reason for the rise in brutal killings. The fact that these killings are mainly done on caste lines has also affected the prospects of the ruling front, especially in Tirunelveli district. The fight is mostly between the Dalits and the Thevar community and has led to a polarization of the social fabric in almost all the southern districts of Tamil Nadu.
Director-General of Police C. Saylendra Babu called a meeting of senior officers in Tirunelveli and Madurai to take strict action against the perpetrators of the violence and killings. He directed the district police superintendents to be on alert and closely monitor the shops where weapons like knives and machetes are sold. The police have directed all the shopkeepers to keep a record of those who have bought these weapons.
While the police are undertaking strict monitoring, the local people are worried that either before the polls or immediately after them, there could be violence in the region on caste lines.
M. Rajendran, Retired Professor of Social Sciences, Madurai Kamaraj University, told IANS that “The police have to be tough with these thugs. They should not be given a hero’s welcome in their native villages for killing someone and the police should put it down with an iron hand. The steps taken by the DGP to get information about those who buy knives and machetes is a good idea and constant intelligence inputs and arrest of those involved in reprisal killings are a must as the immediate solution. Caste differences have to go and the government should conduct massive awareness programmes right from school children to adults to overcome this.”
The nine districts of the state that are going to the polls in two phases are Kancheepuram, Chengalpattu, Tenkasi, Vellore, Ranipet, Tiruppatur, Tirunelveli, Villupuram, and Kallakuruchi. Political parties are busy connecting with the people.
While Chief Minister M.K. Stalin is leading the DMK campaign, the AIADMK is being led by former Chief Ministers, O. Panneerselvam and Edappadi. K. Palaniswami.
With the results of the elections coming out on October 12, it remains to be seen who will have the last laugh even as political observers are of the opinion that the DMK led front has an edge.
R. Padmanabhan, Director, Socio-Economic Development Foundation, a think tank based out of Madurai, told IANS that “The DMK led front has a slight edge in the rural local body polls, as generally in panchayat elections the party which is in power has an edge. Moreover, the Stalin government has done well in the past few months since it assumed office and this will also work in favour of the DMK led front. In the AIADMK, there are certain issues within the party and the PMK announcing it will contest the elections alone is a setback for the AIADMK front in northern Tamil Nadu.”