DMK-BJP alliance is very much in the realm of the possible
Those who argue that a rationalist party like the DMK would be a bad fit with the BJP are on the wrong track. The DMK as it is today is no different from any political party in Tamil Nadu and its primary goal is to get the best deal possible from the Centre.
Prime minister Narendra Modi’s surprise and much publicised visit to meet with ailing Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) patriarch M Karunanidhi has predictably set the political dovecotes aflutter. It is the first time since 2004 that a degree of bonhomie has been seen between the two parties though the BJP was quick to say that this was nothing more than concern on the part of Mr Modi for the nonagenarian leader. Still, the optics said it all. The prime minister, always careful about the political signals he sends out, was clearly testing the waters in the larger interest of the party’s mission south. While it is still too early to predict how this will pan out politically, one can’t blame the BJP for trying to build bridges (if it is indeed that) with the Dravidian party which is united and has a clear line of succession. The DMK’s succession planning has been fairly smooth from Karunanidhi to MK Stalin with the minor glitch of a restive Azhagiri who has been effectively marginalised. The BJP’s alliance with the AIADMK was always fractious. But at least the party knew who it had to deal with as long as J Jayalalithaa was around.
Her passing has thrown her party into a state of disarray with the E Palaniswami and O Paneerselvam factions at loggerheads with each other, and, in an uneasy alliance, opposed to TTV Dinakaran. The prospect of two film stars Kamal Hasan and Rajnikanth entering the political fray is likely to complicate politics even further. There is a strong anti-incumbency factor which will weigh against the AIADMK and any sympathy factor for Jayalalithaa will have dissipated totally by 2019. The DMK’s chances, as of now, are fairly bright and this is unlikely to have escaped a party as politically astute as the BJP. If a fortuitous alliance is forged, this could well be the big break that the BJP has been waiting for to breach the citadel of Fort St George. The DMK, experience with the previous BJP government of AB Vajpayee shows, is a less demanding and more reliable ally than the AIADMK. In contrast, the Jayalalithaa-led AIADMK has always been a fickle ally as both the BJP and the Congress have discovered to their dismay.
From the DMK’s perspective, an alliance with the party that calls the shots at the centre won’t be unwelcome – and could ease some of the pressure the party is facing in ongoing investigations and judicial proceedings, including the 2G case. Those who argue that a rationalist party like the DMK would be a bad fit with the BJP are on the wrong track. The DMK as it is today is no different from any political party in Tamil Nadu and its primary goal is to get the best deal possible from the Centre. Given that pragmatism is the guiding principle of politics, a DMK-BJP alliance is very much in the realm of the possible.