The ‘Prince’ in waiting MK Stalin has finally captured the throne at Fort St George in Chennai. Stalin led DMK alliance of a dozen political parties is back in power after 10 years in the opposition. But, this is not a decisive victory for the late Kaliagnar M Karunanidhi’s son. In a fierce battle, the ruling AIADMK led by the outgoing chief minister E Palanisamy has lost heroically. Insiders and analysts say his alliance with the BJP has gone against the AIADMK.
As per the latest count, DMK + is leading in 145 constituencies and has two wins and the ruling AIADMK + has lead in 85 constituencies with one win.
When EPS became the chief minister after Sasikala’s jailing in February 2017, no one gave him even an outside chance. Almost everyone had predicted that his government would collapse in a few weeks. But, he proved all of them wrong by completing his term and holding the party together facing several crises.
The EPS led AIADMK alliance was wiped out in the 2019 Parliament elections after winning just one seat out of total 39 in the state. His political obituary was written and most had predicted the doom of AIADMK in the Assembly elections.
EPS had roped in ace election strategist Sunil Kanugolu, who had earlier handled Stalin’s elections in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Sunil changed the way AIADMK fought elections and took on his old friend turned rival Prashant Koshor who handled DMK’s campaign.
During the peak of campaigning, Sunil had always maintained that it was going to be a close fight and the DMK had to struggle to return to power.
Many AIADMK insiders and political analysts feel that a “forced” alliance with the BJP has gone against the AIADMK spoiling their chances of returning to power. “BJP is not liked by the majority in TN. AIADMK was forced to join hands with the BJP. It has cost us dearly”, said an AIADMK leader from Salem , EPS’s hometown.
Losing the election after giving a tough fight has elevated the stature of EPS in the party. It is almost certain that he will lead the opposition both inside and outside the Assembly.
Since the party has narrowly lost the elections, majority AIADMK leaders and the cadre won’t switch sides and will stay together, waiting for their next chance. The BJP which is hoping to build the party in TN will have to prolong the wait as AIADMK has managed to retain its base.
“If the EPS led AIADMK had lost badly, the shaken leaders and the cadre would have gone to BJP to safeguard their political interests. BJP can grow only inorganically in TN. Now that is not going to happen. It is good news for the AIADMK and Dravidian politics”, said a political strategist.
MK Stalin in his 60s has led the party on his own and has captured the power in a close fight. Since his party DMK has won just enough seats to form the government, he can’t afford to antagonize his alliance partners Congress, Left and other Dravidian parties. It will give them some breathing space and political importance in the state.
MK Stalin has certainly won and EPS has not lost badly. In defeat, Edapadi Palanisamy has emerged as a tall leader.