Challenges galore for Stalin

DMK Working President M K Stalin addresses during the party's General Council Meeting at Anna Arivalayam in Chennai on Tuesday, Aug 28, 2018. Stalin was unanimously elected as the party President at the meeting. PTI

Cobbling up a strong alliance, consolidating DMK's march towards recapturing Fort St George, seat of power of Tamil Nadu Government and dealing with the BJP as it tries to make inroads into Dravidian land are some of the challenges that await M K Stalin as DMK president.

As Stalin steps into the large shoes of his father M Karunanidhi, who helmed the DMK for 49 years weathering many storms, he is being keenly watched by other Opposition parties, including the Congress, who are looking at winning the maximum number of seats from Tamil Nadu to stop Narendra Modi in 2019.

Stalin's first test would be to win the yet-to-be announced by-elections to Tiruvarur and Tiruparankundram, Assembly seats vacated by Karunanidhi and AIADMK MLA A K Bose and counter the growing popularity of rebel AIADMK leader T T V Dhinakaran, who has his ears to the ground.

DMK has not won any major election in seven years — it lost both the 2011 and 2016 Assembly polls and 2014 Lok Sabha polls — and only a victory can further cement Stalin's standing as a mass leader.

Besides, Stalin needs a strategy to take on new entrants such as actors Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan, who might test their electoral waters in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

Writer and political observer Aazhi Senthilnathan says Stalin faces three big challenges: the way he deals with the BJP, which has mega plans for Tamil Nadu; cobbling up a formidable alliance with like-minded parties to avoid split in anti-incumbency polls; and the right strategy to win Lok Sabha and Assembly polls.

"BJP will not lie low. The party will either try to do business with the DMK or try to foment trouble like it did with the AIADMK after J Jayalalithaa’s demise. The foremost challenge before Stalin is to deal with the BJP. By dealing I mean the strategy to counter the BJP," Senthilnathan told DH.

Prof Ramu Manivannan, Head of the Department of Politics and Public Administration, University of Madras, said Stalin very well knows that his political future rests on standing up to the BJP.

Other challenges, according to Manivannan, are keeping the DMK flock together and consolidating his march towards regaining power in the state.

"He (Stalin) has inherited the post of president though he worked up his way. But power cannot be inherited. He has to win elections and his challenge lies in cobbling up coalitions like his father did," he told DH.

Senthilnathan echoes Manivannan saying the DMK needs "strong alliance partners" to overthrow the AIADMK government since the multiple-way split in anti-incumbency votes might spell doom for the party.

The DMK stormed back to power in 2006 under Karunanidhi only on the strength of the alliance and Stalin should take a leaf out of his father's political acumen to stitch formidable coalitions.

"Though the DMK stands to gain from anti-incumbency, it cannot just sit back and enjoy since the next elections would see multiple players in the fray. So, Stalin must cobble up a strong alliance and put in place the winning strategy. He has all the chances of capturing power, but everything depends on his political moves,” Senthilnathan said.

Manivannan says though there are "irritants" like M K Azhagiri, who is making incessant noise, Stalin looks comfortable within the DMK. "The challenge for Stalin lies outside — winning elections," he said.

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Challenges galore for Stalin

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