Conventional political wisdom may lead one to think that political parties do not disappear from our domain. But then, we do have instances such as the Telugu Desam faction that Lakshmi Parvathy headed for a while or that of the mammoth called the Janata Party that ruled India for a couple of years having disappeared from the political map. This may happen to the AIADMK at some point. Since its foundation in 1972, there is nothing ideological about its existence. As much as it was a fact that the party existed around the personality of MGR, it is now an entity that exists around the personality of J.Jayalalitha.
One may argue that someone could emerge there in the same way as Jayalalitha did after MGR. But then, the fact is that Jayalalitha did not arrive there from nowhere. MGR anointed her. O.S.Paneerselvam, whom Jayalalitha chose to don the Chief Minister’s mantle in 2001 and remains her confidante even now is not the one who can be seen as heading the party as does Jayalalitha post MGR. If this sounds reasonable, the logical course that a discussion on Tamil Nadu politics in a few years from now would tend to see the contest to be between the DMDK’s Vijayakanth and the DMK’s M.K.Stalin.
In other words, the emergence of the DMDK as the principal opposition party in the State assembly and the fact that Vijayakanth does not wear any ideology on his sleeves has thrown a fresh challenge to the DMK. The DMDK chief’s lack of political experience, and acumen in that sense, may have helped Stalin in normal times. But then, the DMK is now going through times that are difficult.
Stalin, on whom the DMK will lean soon, will have to jostle for the opposition space. Unlike in the past when the DMK, even after losing power, remained the alternative to the AIADMK, the scenario now is that the party will have to struggle hard to remain the alternative. Stalin’s position, hence, is most unenviable. And more so with Kanimozhi’s incarceration in Tihar and the DMK patriarch refusing to stay put and watch the law taking its course from a distance. It is also likely that a number of the second generation leaders of the DMK in the districts, on whom Stalin could lean upon, are accused of corruption charges by the Jayalalitha regime.
Vijayakanth may be innocent of ideology. But then, he seems to have a strategy in place. His response to the Governor’s address to the joint session, as leader of the opposition in the assembly, showed evidence to this. The DMK was his target. He seems to have someone with a long sight advising him. The endgame may be to build the DMDK as the alternative to the AIADMK in 2016. And for that, it is imperative to ensure that the DMK is reduced to a marginal force. The DMDK’s game plan seems to be to allow the crisis that is eating into the vitals of the DMK to take its toll and then occupy the space that emerges in the process. In this strategy, the DMDK does not have to turn pro-active in any major way. Vijayakanth will only have to wait and watch and take some baby steps in the course and as things unfold.
It remains to be seen if Stalin, on whom the DMK’s future hinges has the grit, the energy and the muscle to intervene in this course. A task that is easier stated than accomplished.