Tamil Nadu gets battle ready for the next big polls in the state, for electing local bodies in Kancheepuram, Chengalpettu, Vellore, Tirupathur, Ranipet, Villupuram, Kallakurichi, Tirunelveli and Tenkasi.
This will be the next crucial election, post the Assembly polls held in April, when the DMK handed a crushing defeat to the AIADMK.
The two Dravidian majors will face off in the local body elections in the nine newly carved districts.
A Supreme Court Vacation Bench of Justice Hemant Gupta and Justice Aniruddha Bose on June 22, directed the Tamil Nadu State Election Commission to conduct the local body elections in the nine new districts and declare results before September 15.
“We grant an extension of time to complete the entire election process, including publication/ notification of election schedule and the result thereof before September 15, 2021, as the constitutional mandate to conduct elections in a time-bound manner,” the top court order said.
The nine districts were carved out from existing four districts and the elections to their local bodies were to be held before December 2019 after completing the delimitation process, for which they have now been given an extention.
Political parties have already started preparations, with the DMK already holding district secretary-level meetings at the party state headquarters on Monday in which Chief Minister and DMK president M.K.Stalin participated.
In the meeting Stalin exhorted the party district secretaries to chalk out a plan so that the DMK alliance win all the seats giving no room for the opposition.
DMK alliance partner Congress is keen that the differences with the Dravidian party at the grass root levels be ironed out and they get maximum seats to contest.
State Congress chief K.S. Alagiri told IANS: “Congress has performed extremely well in the recent assembly elections and we expect at least 10 per cent of the total seats in the local body polls to be allocated to us to contest the polls.”
Sources in the DMK, however, told IANS that Congress does not have a grass-root machinery in the state and that it is whu it is going piggyback on the DMK for reaping electoral dividends.
The DMK though would consider providing the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi, a movement predominant with Dalit cadres more seats in the ensuing elections as the VCK have a good grass-root presence in these districts.
The AIADMK is on a sticky wicket after losing power and the arrival of former interim general secretary V.K.Sasikala pitching her claims to lead the party.
While both the senior leaders, K. Palaniswami and O. Panneerselvam putt up a brave front, there are resentments at the grass-root levels as Sasikala tries to remain relevent by releasing audio clippings of her conversation with the AIADMK cadres in various parts of the state on a daily basis.
The AIADMK is also worried that the Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK) floated by Sasikala’s nephew TTV Dhinakaran will create problems by eating into its vote share.
Even as the AIADMK has dismissed its spokesperson Pugazhendhi for having been vocally critical of PMK leader Anbumani Ramadoss, the party cadres do not feel that the PMK leadership have that bonhomie with the AIADMK and that there are several differences of opinion at the grass-root level between the PMK and AIADMK leadership, both at the micro and macro levels.
A senior leader of the AIADMK from Northern Tamil Nadu told IANS on conditions of anonymity: “If PMK does not support us in North Tamil Nadu, then it will be curtains and I don’t think that the issues between the AIADMK and the PMK at several places of the state have died down and we have to immediately reach a solution to this vexing problem or we will face the music in the local body polls.”
Another issue confronting the AIADMK is BJP state president, L. Murugan, for making it known that the alliance with the Dravidian party was only for the assembly polls and that things are open.
While the BJP is not a big force to reckon with in Tamil Nadu, it has pockets of influence and this could also in turn create problems for the AIADMK at the grass-root levels if things are not sorted out.