Tamil Nadu: An election without Jayalalithaa and Karunanidhi

Former Chief Ministers J. Jayalalithaa and M. Karunanidhi are no more but it is still them that their parties - AIADMK and DMK respectively - invoke and rely on to seek votes in the Lok Sabha battle.

Tamil Nadu Lok Sabha elections An election without Karunanidhi and Jayalalithaa
The Parliament elections in the state are the first ever after the demise of Dravidian stalwarts J Jayalalithaa of AIADMK and M Karunanidhi of the DMK.
By: ABP News Bureau
Updated: 16 Apr 2019 09:12 PM
CHENNAI: It's election time in Tamil Nadu with traditional rivals DMK and AIADMK taking on each other, as they have for decades, but missing from their high decibel campaign this time are two powerful voices -- M Karunanidhi and J Jayalalithaa. Election 2019 is the first in the state without the two Dravidian stalwarts and both the parties are slugging it out to continue their legacy, even as the likes of Kamal Haasan and T T V Dhinakaran plan to play spoilsport.

The nearly month-long heated campaign for the single phase Lok Sabha elections drew to a close Tuesday evening with Chief Minister K Palaniswami, DMK president M K Stalin and leaders of other parties making a final bid to woo voters. Jayalalithaa and Karunanidhi are no more but it is still them that their invoke and rely on to seek votes in the Lok Sabha battle.

The ruling AIADMK's long-time leader Jayalalithaa died in December 2016 but it is her old electoral speech urging people not to waste their votes on any other party and only cast their ballot in her party's favour that is telecast as part of the party's campaign.

In his rallies, Chief Minister K. Palaniswami, apart from attacking DMK President M.K. Stalin, also seeks to leverage Jayalalithaa's legacy, recalling the various schemes that she had implemented in that part of the state as well as across Tamil Nadu.

"It is part of the ruling AIADMK's narrative that theirs is the government of Amma (Jayalalithaa) and the schemes are that of Amma," AIADMK spokesperson Avadi Kumar told IANS.

At all AIADMK rallies, Jayalalithaa figures prominently on hoardings and is shown towering over Palaniswami and Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam.

Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while addressing his rallies here, began his speech praising Jayalalithaa and AIADMK founder M.G. Ramachandran.

On the other side, DMK's Stalin and other leaders talk about the various schemes brought in by the late Karunanidhi when he was Chief Minister.

While mounting a strong attack on the AIADMK government and Palaniswami, the DMK President also says that he will not speak without proof as he is the son of Karunanidhi.

Similarly, other DMK speakers also stress the schemes implemented by the earlier Karunanidhi government.

In the last Lok Sabha polls, the AIADMK won 37 of 39 seats in the state, while the BJP and PMK won one each, both as NDA constituents. The AIADMK is now leading the NDA in the state.

DMK and others, including the Congress, failed to return a single MP. This election, they are part of the DMK-led mega alliance unlike in 2014.

This is the first statewide election that the two year-old Palaniswami government is facing. The polls are being seen as a litmus test before it seeks a successive term in 2021 Assembly polls.

Under Jayalalithaa's leadership, the AIADMK stormed to power in 2011, unseating the DMK and reducing it to double digit numbers in the 234-member state Assembly.

The Jayalalithaa juggernaut continued, leaving virtually nothing for the opposition even as her party colleagues and ministers hardly hogged any limelight.

She set political circles on fire with her famous "Modi or Lady" statement in the 2014 national polls, pitting herself against Prime Minister Narendra Modi in terms of governance and administration.

In 2016, she created history after leading her party to a successive term, a feat repeated after three decades by a ruling party in the state, before she was confined to a hospital bed following illness.

Karunanidhi, who rubbed shoulders with the likes of Dravidian heavyweights CN Annadurai and EVR Periyar, was often seen as a leader who could never be left out of the polity, irrespective of whether he was in power on not.

The veteran wielded tremendous clout in the UPA I and II governments. Despite being in the opposition in Tamil Nadu during UPA-I, he steered the Congress-led coalition to a grand victory in all 39 seats in the state and the one in Puducherry in 2009, leaving the ruling AIADMK's political ambition in tatters.

A crowd-puller who could awe both the masses and the classes with his oratory, Karunanidhi never lost an election in his over half-a-century political career, and was counted among the best for his oratory and shrewd political mind.

The leader, however, receded from limelight in the last few years, with age taking a toll on him.

Some Key Facts and Figures:

1: First time Lok Sabha elections in the state, without two stalwarts of Tamil Nadu politics – Jayalalithaa of AIADMK and M. Karunanidhi of DMK.

2: This has given national parties such as the Bharatiya Janata Party hope of making inroads in the state.

3: This election will indicate how the two major Dravidian parties will fare after the death of their biggest leaders.

4: Main contest: AIADMK-led alliance where BJP is junior partner vs. DMK-led alliance where Congress is junior partner.

5: Elections will also take place in 18 assembly seats whose legislators were disqualified by the speaker - for switching camps from the ruling AIADMK to the rebel TTV Dhinakaran-led AMMK party.

6: Issues: Severe shortage of water, rising farm distress, caste issues, increasing unemployment.

(With inputs from agencies)