All anti-Jayalalithaa parties should unite for 2016 polls: Karunanidhi | india | Hindustan Times
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All anti-Jayalalithaa parties should unite for 2016 polls: Karunanidhi

DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi has set tongues wagging by advocating in a recent interview that all anti-AIADMK parties should come together to take on chief minister J Jayalalithaa in the upcoming 2016 assembly elections.

india Updated: Nov 04, 2015 23:16 IST
KV Lakshmana
AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa will be seeking a historic second re-election in next year’s Assembly Polls in Tamil Nadu.
AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa will be seeking a historic second re-election in next year’s Assembly Polls in Tamil Nadu. (PTI Photo)

DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi has set tongues wagging by advocating in a recent interview that all anti-AIADMK parties should come together to take on chief minister J Jayalalithaa in the upcoming 2016 assembly elections.

Karunanidhi’s pitch for a grand alliance makes for great political sense in a largely bipolar Tamil Nadu. Smaller and marginal parties with pockets of influence could add incremental strength to the DMK, the principal opposition in the state, to challenge the AIADMK.

But ground realities suggest that Karunanidhi, in the autumn of his career, has a tall task in hand in mopping up anti-AIADMK votes. The opposition is divided and it further fragmented earlier this week with former ally, Vaiko Gopalsamy’s MDMK, stitching up a separate alliance, the Peoples Welfare Front, with two Left parties.

In a state where constantly shifting alliances are integral to political life, Karunanidhi needs allies more than anyone else. Six months ahead of the next polls, Jayalalithaa looks invincible. Apart from a brute majority in the current House – her AIADMK won 150 of the total 234 assembly seats alone – she looks on course to creating history by being re-elected for a second consecutive term in the absence of any discernible signs of anti-incumbency.

She would also be drawing confidence from her party’s stellar show in the 2014 polls. She had parted ways with allies like Captain Vijaykanth, and yet managed a clean sweep by wresting 37 of the 39 Lok Sabha seats.

“Karunanidhi has a lot of ground to cover if he really has to catch up with Jayalalitha,” says political analyst Gnani Sankaran. “Firstly he has to reconnect with the masses and work harder to generate a sense of anti-incumbency. Then comes the task of convincing the masses that Jayalalithaa regime is useless for them. This is what his son Stalin is trying to do at present, and only time will tell if he has done the job well,” he said.

His party’s vote share in 2011 elections was 22.4% against AIADMK’s 38.4%. It didn’t improve in 2014, an election where the DMK drew a blank.

Despite facing heavy odds, Karunanidhi struck a belligerent tone in his latest interview to The Economic Times. Opposition unity is desirable, but it was not essential to defeat the AIADMK, the octogenarian leader said. “Alliances would crystalize as polls come nearer,” he said.

But opposition unity remains elusive for now. The BJP is more with the chief minister than the opposition, given its cozy ties with her. The Congress, it is said, is likely to side again with the DMK, but another of its erstwhile partner, the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) seems hell bent on charting an independent course. It has announced former Union minister Anbumani Ramadoss as its chief ministerial candidate.

The ruling AIADMK is sitting pretty as the opposition ranks remain splintered. “Amma will win because of her good work and people-oriented welfare programmes,” says a confident party spokesperson CR Saraswathi.