THE North-East has been won by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), coming after a spectacular victory in Uttar Pradesh, and a tough, but eye-opening one, in native Gujarat, which made its impact felt on Budget 2018. But, at present, the BJP and its several allies have saturated their presence in North India, in States such as Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. They can only lose seats in these States in 2019, rather than increase the combined tally of 2014. Hence, the initial Look North policy shifted to Look East, and now has to change to Look South. To make up for the possible shortfall in its northern bastion, the BJP and its allies have to make up with wins in the south. This is why Tamil Nadu will prove to be crucial in 2019.
If Narendra Modi has to re-win India in 2019, and repeat his national electoral wave of 2014, he has to focus on one State, this time in South India. Tamil Nadu holds the key to Modi’s emphatic return to power next year. More importantly, the ground situation is ripe for the Prime Minister to pursue an open and hidden ‘divide-and-rule’ policy to create the right wedges, and strike the right coalitions in the State, which sends 39 MPs to the Lok Sabha.
In Tamil Nadu, the death of Amma, Jayalalithaa, has weakened the AIADMK, with two prominent factions at loggerheads to control the future of the party. Legal cases, alliances and changing equations have made it easy for the BJP to strike the right chord. But, it needs to be careful to choose winnable horse, rather than stagger with laggards. This is crucial because Tamil Nadu’s voters are known to cast their ballot emphatically to one of the two tussling political parties, AIADMK and DMK. Thus, the State provides an opportunity to make up for the possible losses in the northern States in almost one go in the southern one.
DMK is going though its own internal and external churning process. Individual, but powerful, leaders in the party have extended claims that they can specifically sway voters in large swathes of the State, either in its north, south or central regions. Hence, there was no need for the Congress to join its hand with the DMK as a single unit. Rather, it may be more fruitful for the Congress to get into ‘election bed’ with a few, but key, politicians in the DMK. This is clearly an attempt to undercut the ageing and ailing MK Karunanidhi, and divide the ‘First Joint Family’ of Tamil Nadu.
Kamal Hassan’s decision to form a new political party has further opened new windows of opportunities for both the incumbents, and those who now eye power bases in the State. Rajnikant is another factor to contend with. Sources indicate that the legendary ’70 MM Hero’ has placed his electoral cards on the table, along with his demands. A political deal is in the offing, although one cannot say for sure until the ‘Fat Woman Sings’. Over the next few months, the ‘Hero’ dynamics, and their impact on the 2019 national elections will become clearer.
Remember that despite the Dravidian politics in Tamil Nadu for several decades, cine stars have dominated it. From MG Ramachandran to his protégé, Jayalalithaa! Now comes Kamal Hassan, who announced his party will contest all the assembly seats in 2021, which implies that he may clamour for all the Lok Sabha constituencies in 2019 too. According to an article, way back in 1996, Rajnikant flirted with politics, when he joined the DMK and railed against the AIADMK. Two decades later, the theatre of politics has changed. So have the characters. A new drama is in the offing. Can Modi become its director?
VOL. 11 | ISSUE 11-12 | MARCH 2018