A reprieve for the Tamil Nadu ruling faction
The upcoming polls for the 39 Lok Sabha and the 20 assembly seats means that the ruling party has only a short window to get its act togetherUpdated: Oct 26, 2018 11:21 IST
The Edappadi Palaniswami (EPS) led AIADMK government can breathe easy, at least for now. The Damocles sword hanging over its longevity, with regard to the disqualification of 18 MLAs who rebelled, has been temporarily removed. The speaker’s disqualification of the rebel AIADMK MLAs has received the court’s imprimatur by a 2-1 majority verdict.
Ever since the death of J Jayalalithaa in December 2016, Tamil Nadu has been riven by political instability. The ruling AIADMK has been facing an internecine feud over leadership issues. In a 234-member assembly (including two vacancies because of the deaths of sitting members) the ruling EPS-OPS (O Pannerselvam, deputy CM) faction commands the fealty of 116 members in the reduced assembly strength of 214. The majority halfway mark is 108. The government is safe for the moment.
However, the court also vacated the stay on by-polls being held for these constituencies. This means that the ruling party cannot rest easy. If the rebel faction, led by TTV Dhinakaran, decides to opt for polls rather than appeal against the high court verdict, the ruling faction of the AIADMK, which does not have a charismatic vote catcher, may struggle to retain a majority.
Plagued by corruption charges in a number of schemes like the highway contracts project, the midday meal scheme and the gutka scam, the state government is struggling to deliver on the governance front. Power cuts have been endemic in the state, with the government blaming it on the Centre, saying that the supply of coal is inadequate. Even though western Tamil Nadu saw floods this year because of a good inflow into the Cauvery river, poor water management, which saw parts of Kollidam bridge being washed away, means it will be a dry summer again.
The shutting down of the Sterlite’s copper smelter in Thootkudi and the opposition to the Rs 10,000 crore Chennai-Salem green corridor has meant that Tamil Nadu, one of the highly-industrialised states, is acquiring an image of being unfriendly to industries. This is a perception that the state government hasn’t done much to counter.
The government should be thankful that the main opposition party, the DMK — which itself is undergoing succession pangs after the demise of its long-term leader Karunanidhi — hasn’t been able to capitalise on its failures. However, upcoming polls for the 39 Lok Sabha and the 20 assembly seats means that the ruling party has only a short window to get its act together. Otherwise, today’s sigh of relief might prove to be ephemeral.