Thursday brought about an electoral defeat that caught the DMK unawares, when everything from exit poll predictions to voter sentiment over the last three weeks seemed to be going in its favour.
The party may now most likely cry hoarse over the alleged misuse of money power by the Jayalalithaa-led AIADMK, but it’s a foregone conclusion that Tamil Nadu has decided against having a DMK presence at its helm for another five years.
This development, combined with the fact that the DMK now has little influence at the central level, does not bode well for a party with leaders who are facing charges ranging from corruption to criminal conspiracy. Even as the roles of party leader Kanimozhi and A Raja in the 2G scam are being probed, a fresh can of worms has been opened with one of the alleged killers of Sadiq Batcha – an aide of the former telecom minister – reportedly confessing that the crime was committed to silence him.
The defeat will also create leadership issues, possibly spurring DMK leader M Karunanidhi’s son MK Alagiri – who was ousted from the party – to foment trouble against younger brother and heir apparent Stalin.
However, even in his defeat, Stalin has shown that he can change the DMK’s fortunes. The party treasurer was instrumental in increasing its seat count four-fold from 23 to over 100 – although he couldn’t manage the final push. According to experts, the DMK might have emerged triumphant if Karunanidhi had declared Stalin as its chief ministerial candidate.
Even now, there is an underlying tension in the DMK between the members of its old guard and the younger crop of Stalin supporters who can’t wait to have him anointed leader. Then there’s the vindictive Alagiri, who was heard telling supporters in Madurai that the AIADMK would emerge victorious this time.
Karunanidhi’s family has dominated the state’s political scene since the 1960s, with the former screenwriter becoming its chief minister five times. Stalin, on the other hand, is a five-time MLA who has served as the state’s deputy chief minister. His cousin, Dayanidhi Maran, served as a Union minister for two terms.
The party partriarch’s daughter Kanimozhi, a Rajya Sabha member, was embroiled in the 2G spectrum scam along with Raja during the erstwhile UPA regime. Maran’s elder brother Kalanithi owns the Sun TV Network, which could also come under stress as a result of Jayalalithaa’s win.