TN’s 10-year challenge: Key changes witnessed in politics 2009-2019

Chennai: With the #10YearChallenge that is about posting photos of individuals from 2009 and from today, to check their physical changes, taking the social media by storm, how about a similar exercise for Tamilnadu from the political angle, for the State’s politics witnessed a sea change in the last decade?

In 2009, politics of TN was centered on just two person(alitie)s – M Karunanidhi and J Jayalalithaa. Karunanidhi was the Chief Minister and Jayalalithaa was the supremo of the main Opposition party. In fact, since 1989, the musical chair of power was occupied by these two leaders and it continued till 2016, barring two brief stints by O Panneerselvam when Jayalalithaa had to quit the post due to court verdicts. Even on those occasions, ‘Amma’ was only believed to be ruling the State as ‘Makkal Mudhalvar’.

But, her hospitalisation in September 2016 and demise in December ended with Tamilnadu witnessing two Chief Ministers till date – Panneerselvam and Edappadi K Palaniswami. And, of course, V K Sasikala, Jayalalithaa’s close aide, was almost set to become the CM in early 2017, but missed the top post by a whisker, after she was convicted in the infamous disproportionate assets case.

Before going to the Parapana Agrahara jail (where, as a latest probe report claims, she had received preferential treatment, including specially cooked food and access to special cells), she made Palaniswami Chief Minister, who has since then proved that he is master survivor.

Coming to the party, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, which saw a split, was reunited after EPS and OPS joined forces in 2017. But, Sasikala’s nephew T T V Dhinakaran, who was expelled from the party along with his aunt, floated AMMK and also emerged victorious in R K Nagar by-election in December 2017.

The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, floated by C N Annadurai, was helmed by his ‘thambi’ Karunanidhi for a record five-decades till August last year when he breathed his last. Though his demise did not create many ripples in the party, compared to Jayalalithaa’s death, M K Stalin, after facing little protest from his elder brother M K Alagiri, became the president of the DMK. He is also the Leader of Opposition, with the DMK commanding a strength of 89 legislators.

The past decade has not been so good for the DMK. While it was in power in the State and the Centre in 2009, the party lost the 2011 Assembly elections, 2014 Lok Sabha polls and 2016 Assembly elections. Vijayakanth, a rising star in politics during the start of this decade, faded due to his ill-health and is currently undergoing treatment in the United States. His son, Vijay Prabhakar, is now rising in the DMDK.

Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan, top stars of Tamil cinema, openly admitted their political ambitions. While Rajini is yet to float a party, Kamal launched Makkal Needhi Maiam in early 2018.

The tenure of local body representatives expired in 2016 and civic elections have not been conducted since.

While these are the main changes witnessed in the Tamilnadu political arena in the last 10 years, there are certain things that did not change — the fate of parties like the MDMK, PMK, BJP, Congress, VCK, CPI and CPI(M). And, that is a different challenge.

M Bhaskar Sai