If the RK Nagar by-poll victory of TTV Dhinakaran did serve a message, it has to be a warning sign-not only for ruling AIADMK, but also the opposition DMK.
It was four months back in March when TTV Dhinakaran launched his new party Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK). The launch event of his political party drew a huge crowd. On July 8, TTV Dhinakaran addressed another mega rally in Coimbatore, an electorally significant region. The Codissia grounds in Coimbatore saw a huge crowd, probably even more than the previous one. “The days of Tamil Nadu government are numbered,” said TTV Dhinakaran. For the rest of the speech, he took on the Chief Minister Edapaddi Palaniswamy and Deputy CM O Pannerselvam. He even challenged the present AIADMK government to match his organisational capacity. After all, massive crowd that poured for TTV Dhinakaran’s rally was one of the biggest Tamil Nadu has witnessed recently. From the stage in Coimbatore on July 8, TTV Dhinakaran launched his 2019 Lok Sabha Elections war cry.
Back when Jayalalitha’s death left entire Tamil Nadu wondering who will fill the vacuum, Dhinakaran’s name wasn’t even in the race. Fast forward to today, TTV Dhinakaran has been widely successful in claiming the legacy late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister. His claims of carrying “Amma’s true legacy” were consolidated by his victory in RK Nagar by-poll. The constituency was earlier represented by Late Tamil Nadu CM and AIADMK Supremo J Jayalalitha. Little did anyone anticipate that the ousted AIADMK member fighting as an independent will beat the ruling party candidate that too in the party’s bastion.
In a historic victory, TTV Dhinakaran beat AIADMK’s Madhusudhanan.E by as much as 40000 votes. Even the percentage of votes polled in favour of AIADMK candidate did not come close to that of TTV Dhinakaran. The bribery charges too couldn’t pull him down from his ever-grossing popularity. If the RK Nagar by-poll did serve as anything, it has to be a warning sign. A warning sign not only for ruling AIADMK but also the opposition DMK.
The infighting within the AIADMK after the demise of J Jayalalitha highlighted that there is no credible leader left within AIADMK. Jayalalitha was the omnipresent leader who kept the party together. But soon after her death the party fell apart and was divided into three factions like leaves falling off branches of a tree. After much theatrics, the two factions led by EPS and OPS did come together, only to oust the third faction from the party. Not only Sasikala who is facing a jail term but her nephew TTV Dhinakaran who was Party General Secretary was expelled from the party as the EPS-OPS reigned on the top positions.
However, both have proved to be incompetent in filling up the void that Jayalalitha left behind. Tamil Nadu always takes pride in its regional identity. Any alliance that challenges this pride is nearly a political suicide. But, under EPS-OPS took patronage under Centre’s Modi government. The resistance against BJP in Tamil Nadu can be well understood by the fact that in RK Nagar By-poll BJP candidate received votes even lesser than NOTA. Even at the peak of the Modi wave in 2014, the party could only secure 1 seat. The widespread perception is BJP is North-Indian, Upper castes dominated the party. By closely aligning with BJP, the EPS-OPS camp invited political death unto themselves. At the same time, both of them are reeling under corruption charges. With the recent Thoothukudi violence and gross mishandling of the situation, it is highly unlikely that current AIADMK government will see another term.
On the other hand, Dravida Munnetra Kazgham working president MK Stalin who thought the demise of Jayalalitha can help him climb the popularity ladder and present him as the alternative has found a political rival in TTV Dhinakaran. Though he still refuses to accept Dhinakaran as main competition above AIADMK, it would be unwise for him to ignore TTV Dhinakaran completely. Stalin who is still reeling under the shadow of Karunanidhi must understand that TTV Dhinakaran is slowly pulling the rug from under his feet.
The new entrants Kamal Hassan and Rajinikanth have big ambitions. Their fan base might as well be huge, but how many of them will support their politics, is still an unanswered question. Kamal Hassan claims to be centrist, but his leaning towards left is widely known. While Tamil Nadu is certainly not right-leaning state, it is not left-leaning either. On the other hand, Rajinikanth’s camaraderie with BJP will turn out to be a setback for him.
The race in Tamil Nadu is on and over the time more players have jumped in the race. Looking at the prevailing circumstances, the question is will TTV Dhinakaran emerge as the dark horse of Tamil Nadu politics?