Tuesday, March 22, 2011

AIADMK - DMK final positions

The final positions are out.

AIADMK has booted out MDMK from its camp, as Vaiko, the leader of MDMK has not agreed to the offer from AIADMK. The rest of the alliance partners are intact. So the final tally is:

DMDK: 41
CPM: 12
CPI: 10
MMK (Muslim party): 3
PT (Dalit party): 2
AISMK (Sarath Kumar): 2
Indhiya Kudiyarasu Katchi: 1
Muvendhar Munnetra Munnani: 1
Kongu Ilainjar Peravai: 1
Forward Block: 1

Opposed to this is DMK-Congress-PMK alliance.

DMK: 119
Congress: 63
PMK: 30
VC (Dalit party): 10
Kongu Nadu Munnetra Kazhakam: 7
Muslim League: 3
Others: 2

In my view, AIADMK has a minor edge over the ruling DMK. Congress is the biggest weakness in the DMK grouping. There will be considerable infighting within Congress (as is evident in their not announcing the candidates so far). While there will always be a certain degree of unhappiness in every party for the given seats, it is very important how quickly a particular party chooses its candidates and how quickly they start campaigning in their constituencies.

In the last elections, DMK's manifesto was considered a major reason for winning the elections. One has to see the manifesto along with the usual anti-incumbency combined with a reasonably strong grouping put together by DMK. This time DMK has again come up with a loaded manifesto. The battles are not anymore fought with ideology; it is all about freebies.

Last time it was colour TVs. Now it will be wet grinders or mixie - your choice. And several more. I will write in detail about what is on offer from DMK.

AIADMK has not yet come up with its manifesto. It may not have many freebies in them. It will have to be seen whether people are swayed by the offer a wet grinder or a laptop.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

DMK-Congress: A shotgun wedding

After several days of intense negotiations, some tantrums and a few back room deals, the ruling DMK has given 63 seats (out of 234) to Congress in the coming assembly elections.

This is extraordinary as this leaves DMK only 121 seats to contest. PMK which was earlier given 31 has been downsized to 30. VCK has been given 10, Kongu Munnetra Kazhagam 7, and 3 more to smaller parties. This would mean that even if this combine wins the assembly elections (very unlikely), DMK will need Congress and PMK to form a coalition ministry.

Congress demanded an agreement to form a coalition government before the elections while DMK disagreed with that. But now, de facto, Congress has achieved precisely that.

The 'sell out', as it is seen by the DMK cadre is alleged to be linked to 'going slow' on CBI's investigation into 2G scam. If indeed this allegation is true, the future cannot be bright for the combine.

DMK is between a rock and a hard place. Having tasted victory in securing the seats they wanted, Congress will now continue to tighten the screws, and demand the choice of seats which are considered winnable. This will only result in more consternation amidst DMK and PMK cadre. The end result is a poor showing by the cadre.

At the end of the day, beyond the supposed 'money power' and 'bogus voting' that DMK is accused of, it is the enthusiastic campaign by its supporters that has helped the party and the coalition to win the previous elections. But this time, the cadre do not seem to be happy at all.

On the other side, Jayalalitha has not yet worked out any deals with MDMK, CPI and CPM. She probably thinks they have nowhere else to go, as DMK coalition is complete. So she can play hardball and give these three together around 30 seats and no more. These three, on their own, are incapable of winning a single seat. The communists will probably have the ability to hurt the winning chances of either grouping in 4-5 constituencies.

MDMK's Vaiko is a sad case. He has been loyal to Jayalalitha, who is not known much for rewarding such loyalty. Vaiko has seen his support base dwindle by the year and defections have eaten into his party. He is in no position to negotiate for anything from Jayalalitha. He can consider either merging his party into AIADMK or take a political sanyasa. The communists are also fast becoming irrelevant in a reasonably equitably growing state like Tamil Nadu. Their earlier power bases such as the Thanjavur agricultural delta and Coimbatore industrial region have probably deserted them fully now. Agriculture has dwindled in Thanjavur while DMK, AIADMK unions have replaced the communist power base in Coimbatore.

Back to DMK-Congress. There will be another round of intense feuding, with open dissonance, followed by a few more CBI raids. Then Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi wil appear together with Karunanidhi in a couple of well publicised public meetings. But the frosty relationship will be visible for all to see.

I can't see how DMK alliance will win this time, money, Azhagiri and Stalin notwithstanding.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

AIAIDMK - DMDK: a winning combine?

DMDK has finally done a deal with AIADMK.

All these *K parties are likely to confuse the non-Tamil Indian. But the Tamils thrive on this. The tentative grouping on the AIADMK front is now as follows (as told by a friend):

DMDK (Vijayakanth): 41
MDMK (Vai.Ko): 18
CPM: 12
CPI: 10
MMK (Muslim Party): 3
PT (Krishnaswamy, Dalit party): 2
AISMK (Actor Sarath Kumar): 2
FB (Actor Karthik): 1

They add up to 233. So one seat is still unclear. Deals have been clinched with only DMDK, PT, MMK and FB. Though others have not yet signed the deal, this looks most likely.

Compared to this, DMK has not yet worked out the deal with Congress. DMK cadre are angry with Congress in the wake of the 2G imbroglio. There is a feeling amidst DMK folks that Congress is putting undue pressure on DMK - pressure beyond the normal electoral negotiation such as action on A. Raja and Kanimozhi on the 2G scandal, Shahid Balwa's loan and/or investment in Kalaingar TV, selective leaks from Radia tapes and so on.

Such a marriage made at gun point will not work. They will actively work towards defeating Congress in those constituencies.

On the other hand, the AIADMK-DMDK combine will be out on the streets starting today to canvass heavily. How far will Marans and their TV power come in handy to help DMK is questionable. The patch up worked out between Marans and Karunanidhi family seems too fragile. Stalin vs Azhagiri is another major factor afflicting DMK.

Considering all this, I think AIADMK-DMDK combine will walk away with an easy win.