Vying to be CM even before they hit campaign trail

Vying to be CM even before they hit campaign trail

Dateline

The ruling AIADMK in Tamil Nadu, led by its general secretary and Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, appears to be the most likely party to get back to power as the opposition parties remain divided by the overriding ambitions of its leaders who are aiming at securing the top post even before hitting the campaign trail.

Though she suffered some setbacks due to the indictment in the disproportionate assets case by a lower court and was in prison for some time, Jayalalithaa was exonerated by the Karnataka High Court and later won a by-election by a landslide victory, thus cementing her position as her party’s undisputed leader whose popularity soared after the court ruling.

Various freebies and welfare schemes announced and implemented by the AIADMK government only added to her popularity and brightened her chances of winning the May 16 elections. However, the opposition still presents a divided house adding to her comfort.

Even the major opposition party, the DMK, has two chief ministerial candidates in party president M Karunanidhi and his son and party treasurer M K Stalin. At 92, Karunanidhi, who is the oldest candidate in the fray for the top post, has already indicated that he would contest this elections. He has remained unbeaten at the hustings since his party entered the fray in 1957. He is seeking election for a record 13th time.

The Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK) chief Vijayakanth, who wants to be a “King” rather than “King Maker,” has decided to go it alone though initial reports suggested that he was in seat-sharing talks with the DMK. Though he projected himself as CM candidate to provide an alternative to the AIADMK and the DMK and contested alone in 2006, his party could get only a single assembly seat.

Like Vijaykanth, MDMK’s Vaiko, too, seems to have reportedly gone back on his earlier decision to work with the parent DMK and Karunanidhi’s younger son M K Stalin, in the assembly polls. Vaiko formed an alliance called People’s Welfare Front (PWF) comprising his own MDMK with two communist parties and the Thol Thirumavalavan’s Dalit-based Vidhuthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK).

Adding a controversy in the PWF, VCK general secretary and former legislator Ravikumar and the party’s deputy secretary S S Balaji have demanded Thirumavalavan should be declared as the chief ministerial candidate of the four party combine – the PWF. Though Vaiko and Communist leaders can also be declared as CM candidates, the VCK firmly believes it is essential that a Dalit should get the top post.

Meanwhile, Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) declared former Union minister Anbumani Ramadoss as its CM candidate. Incidentally, he is the son of Party Founder S Ramadoss. Though, Anbumani Ramadoss is the first political leader to project himself as CM candidate, analysts are sceptical of him realising his ambitions since his party is strong only in the northern parts of the state.

In the early 2015 itself, Anbumani made his intentions clear by giving full front-page newspaper advertisements that had the articulates ‘change’ and ‘progress’ grabbed from US President Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential election campaign notices.

BJP, Cong unfazed

Desperately trying to cash in on the “graft taint” on the two Dravidian parties – AIADMK and DMK — the BJP, too, had set an ambitious target of winning 150-plus seats in the Assembly elections and “capture power” in the state. This is also the first time that BJP, which was ably led by the NDA front with key parties including DMDK, MDMK and PMK during last Parliament elections, was almost isolated in the state.

Unfazed, the BJP leaders are also showing interest in one among them becoming CM for the first time in the state. Though the goal is “too far”, it is still keeping its hopes alive following the welfare measures undertaken by the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre.

Film director-turned-politician Seeman heading the Naam Thamizhar Katchi is chasing an illusion of ruling Tamil Nadu. The party is all set to contest its first election and he is claiming that he will be do so with confidence. As Seeman already announced candidates to all 234 constituencies, the LTTE sympathiser is trying to make an impact by taking up Sri Lankan Tamils issue during his election campaign.

Not but the least, the Tamil Maanila Congress (TMC) chief and former Union minister G K Vasan is also keeping his idea to become CM close to his chest since his party was floated recently. Vasan, who was sidelined by the Congress by not giving him the state unit president’s post, quit the party and revived his father G K Moopanar’s TMC. Though Vasan’s dream is “too far away,” his cadres were interested to be projected him as CM candidate for this elections onwards. However, Vasan is determined to show his party's strength this time so that at least he could able to announce his CM ambitions in next polls.

Though the opposition leaders are pursuing their dreams, the ruling party led by the redoubtable Jayalalithaa seems to be on a strong wicket as she has shown her resilience every time she was confronted by a challenge. The Tamil Nadu May 16 polls are crucial for all the players involved. But in this complex scenario, an AIADMK victory here would serve to reinforce the leadership of Jayalalithaa.

Interestingly, even in the past Tamil Nadu witnessed several CM aspirants in leaders such the great actor late Sivaji Ganesan, who also floated his own party but could never fulfill his ambition. At present, noted film actor Vijay’s fans too dream of their hero to become not only a political leader but also head the state.

However, superstar Rajinikanth, who always emerges as an ideal choice for many political party leaders who vie with each other in seeking his support, is yet to join active politics in the State.

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