Cong, caste outfits take baton in TN

Cong, caste outfits take baton in TN

Assembly polls 2011: DMK all set to rope in big film stars

Star attraction: Tamil Nadu Deputy Chief Minister M K Stalin meets actor Rajnikanth at his residence in Chennai on Tuesday. PTI

While the Congress for once called the shots in Chennai to wangle 63 seats out of the 234 on offer, the regional parties too are now under the mercy of the sub-regional parties and caste-based outfits.

The eight-party DMK-front headed by M Karunanidhi had not only to humour the Congress in view of the 2G spectrum case revelations, but also had to appease the OBC Vanniyars-based Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) and the Dalit outfit Vidhthalai Chiruthaikal Katchi (VCK) with 30 and 10 Assembly seats respectively.

At the same time, to plug the breaches in the western and southern zones, he has had to strike a deal with a host of caste-based outfits, which is uncharacteristic of the DMK and against Periyar’s ideals to fight caste.

The caste / community-based parties in the DMK-Front mirror a telling sociological reality. Karunanidhi has allotted seven seats to a new OBC Goundars-based Kongunaadu Munnetra Kazhagam (KMK), and one each to two other caste groups in the south, Muvendar Munnetra Kazhagam and Nadar-centric Perun Thailaivar Makkal Katchi. The DMK’s long-standing ally, IUML, gets three seats.

In the Opposition AIADMK camp, J Jayalalitha has skillfully put together a grand 11-party alliance, a key constituent being the actor Vijayakant-founded DMDK, besides the CPI and CPM.

Even she has had to respond to the vote-catching potential of several caste / community based outfits. Amma’s alliance thus also includes Manitha Neya Makkal Katchi, an Islamic organisation, All India Samuthuva Makkal Katchi floated by actor Sarath Kumar with Nadar support, All India Muvendar Munnetra Kazhagam, Kathiravan faction of All India Forward Bloc, Dalit outfit Puthiya Tamizhagam (PT), one faction of the Republican Party of India and the Tamil Nadu Kongu Ilagnar Peravai.

An apparently worried DMK is set to pursue big film stars who also have considerable political influence with the masses. As Vijayakant’s DMDK gains popular appeal, Deputy Chief Minister M K Stalin met superstar Rajnikanth on Tuesday to seek his “blessings.”
A signal from Rajnikanth could yield considerable political mileage for the DMK, sources said. But the actor kept a diplomatic silence. Stalin’s overture to Rajnikanth could be to ensure that the star did not swing openly towards the AIADMK-led front, or towards the BJP which is contesting the election on its own, sources pointed out.

Stalin’s elder brother M K Azhagiri had tried to persuade Vijayakant to go it alone again, sources said.

Veteran editor and political analyst Cho S Ramaswamy had also met Rajnikanth recently. “It had nothing to do with the elections,” Cho said but he saw Vijayakant’s electoral pact with ‘Amma’ as significant.

“There will not be much splitting of votes now in the Opposition camp,” he said.