Much At Stake For DMK And AIADMK In Local Body Polls

Chennai: After the Tamil Nadu Assembly elections this year that brought the DMK to power, the next political battle will be the local body polls.

Ministers in the DMK government have made claims about their handling of the Covid crisis — the increase in testing for Covid-19 cases and vaccinations. Chief Minister M.K. Stalin has asked district-level leaders of his party to undertake a massive grassroots campaign highlighting his government’s handling of the Covid crisis in the state.

A shrewd politician, Stalin has gone on record to state that it was the relentless campaign of the DMK and the present Tamil Nadu government that led the Central government to announce OBC reservation for admission to MBBS and PG medical seats under the All-India quota. This has been a longstanding demand of the OBC communities in the state and the DMK had been campaigning for it.

The Chief Minister told the DMK’s district-level office-bearers on Friday to conduct a campaign on the issue.

Senior DMK leader and state water resources minister, S. Duraimurugan, told IANS: “The DMK government under Thiru. M.K. Stalin is moving ahead, keeping the promises given to the people of the state. You can see the change after our government came to power. As a political party, we are preparing ourselves for the local body elections and I can assure that we will win the local body elections handsomely.”

While the DMK is preparing to fight it out and win the local body polls, the AIADMK does not appear to be on a strong wicket to take on the ruling front. After it was defeated in the Assembly elections, the power struggle in the AIADMK between two former Chief Ministers, K. Palaniswami and O. Panneerselvam has caused fissures in the party. Former interim general secretary of the party, V.K. Sasikala, was expelled from the party but is regularly communicating with party cadres and junior functionaries in a bid to stay afloat in the AIADMK’s power politics. A victory in the local body polls would help it, except that it does not appear to be up to it, yet.

Interestingly, both Palaniswami and Panneerselvam have an excellent rapport with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP national leadership. Party cadres believe that the intervention of the BJP brass would lead to a truce between the two leaders, in time for the local body elections. Commendable victories there would help the party politically.

Senior leader of the AIADMK and party Deputy Coordinator, R. Vaithalingam, while speaking to IANS, said: “There is no rift in the AIADMK. We are a democratic political party and we have a huge support base across the state. You must understand that after 10 years in power, we lost the 2021 Assembly elections after giving a tough fight to the DMK and in the local body polls we will register emphatic victories.”

Political observers are of the opinion that the DMK’s decision to issue a Government Order on 10.5 per cent reservation for the Vanniyar community in professional admissions and government jobs is a political move to enter the strongholds of the Vanniyar community. The Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), which is the political arm of the Vanniyar community, is a part of the AIADMK front and the DMK government has issued the GO with an eye on the local body polls — and to get the maximum support of the PMK. PMK founder president, Dr. S. Ramadoss thanked the Chief Minister soon after the GO was issued.

The DMK is also trying to consolidate its hold over the Muslim community and the Dalits through its alliance with the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) as part of its efforts to score a huge win in the local body elections.

Member of Parliament and leader of VCK, Thol Thirumavalavan, told IANS: “The local body elections are grassroots elections and the DMK-led front, of which we are a part, will win the elections by a very good margin. The DMK government has done extremely well after assuming office and this will be reflected in the local body polls. We are prepared for the local body elections and party cadres and functionaries are all geared up for the elections.”

While the Election Commission has yet to issue a notification for the elections, political parties in Tamil Nadu, especially the Dravidian parties, are busy strengthening their bases and attempting to stitch together new coalitions.

C. Rajeev, Director, Centre For Policy and Development Studies, a think-tank based out of Chennai and a political analyst, told IANS: “The local body polls are an avenue for the DMK to test its popularity among the public and for the AIADMK a major opportunity to bounce back into the political space of Tamil Nadu. Both the Dravidian parties are taking up the challenge and are formulating plans and strategies to take on the opponent headlong and to ensure electoral victories.”
 (IANS)