2019 elections: What will happen in Tamilnadu politics after 23 May?

Chennai: Cliched it may sound, but all eyes are on 23 May, the day that will decide the future of politics and politicians in India in general and Tamilnadu in particular. Reason: along with the results of Lok Sabha elections, those of by-polls in 22 Assembly constituencies in the State will also be announced that day.

The continuance of the AIADMK government, led by Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, which is already surviving on a wafer-thin majority, will be decided 23 May. In the 234-member House, Palaniswami needs the support of at least 118 MLAs for a simple majority.

The recent step by the ruling party to disqualify three legislators for allegedly showing loyalty to AMMK general secretary T T V Dhinakaran is seen by the Opposition as a move to bring down the total strength of the Assembly and win the trust vote, in case a no-confidence motion is brought in the Assembly after the results.

Says Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, who is the coordinator of the AIADMK, “We will never indulge in cheap tactics. Why should we worry when we are going to win all the 22 seats? People are with us, Amma’s (former CM and AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa) blessings are with us.”

For the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, victory in eight of the 22 constituencies is said to be enough for it to continue its rule.

The principal Opposition, the DMK, and its allies have a total of 97 MLAs, one down from the actual strength of 98 due to the demise of party chief M Karunanidhi last year. The party has to win a minimum of 21 seats in the by-polls to come to power and get a simple majority.

Says DMK treasurer Durai Murugan, “Wait till 23 May and watch what is going to happen in Tamilnadu. I had learnt politics from Kalaignar (Karunanidhi) and will ensure that this government falls as soon as the results are out. Stalin will become the Chief Minister by the end of this month and he will rule Tamilnadu for decades.”

According to Thangavel, a political observer, “I am keeping my fingers crossed. Tamilnadu is witnessing such a peculiar scenario for the first time, that, too, in the absence of tall leaders like Karunanidhi and Jayalalithaa. It is going to be a do-or-die situation for both the AIADMK and DMK.”

M Bhaskar Sai