Faced with the acid test, will Palaniswami and AIADMK crawl or fly away?
Considerable interest in the 2021 assembly polls in Tamil Nadu centers on the personality of All India Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), his rise to power, and whether he has the ability to lead his party towards a win.
Although the AIADMK-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alliance faced the electorate in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections under his leadership, its real test comes from the assembly elections, as the stakes are higher for the party. AIADMK performed poorly in parliamentary polls, winning only one of the 39 seats up for grabs. However, Palaniswami claimed that the people supported his government as AIADMK did much better in the Assembly by-elections held concurrently with the Lok Sabha elections, winning 9 of the 22 proposed assembly seats. Nine was exactly the number AIADMK needed to stay in power after the government was reduced to a minority as the party sought to disqualify 18 of its MPs for supporting VK Sasikala’s nephew, then-considered TTV Dhinakaran. like a rebel.
Subsequently, Palaniswami was able to strengthen his position in the party as the government was prepared to complete the remainder of the term without a hitch. Palaniswami now claims that he managed to provide a stable government despite the odds and that this was an achievement in itself, threatened by the stunning attempt of Dravida opposition leader MK Stalin Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK ). Palaniswami is also touring the state claiming that he is a farmer and refers to the waiver of agricultural loans to the tune of Rs 12,300 crore. Stalin questions his credentials as a farmer by pointing out that the AIADMK government voted in favor of agricultural laws in parliament that oppose by agitating farmers in the states along the Delhi border.
In recent weeks, Palaniswami has attempted to bolster his government’s image by announcing a number of social protection programs, mainly freebies, such as six free gas cylinders, the monthly payment of Rs 1,500 to housewives, cancellation of agricultural loans by cooperatives. , etc. However, the main opposition DMK also presented a series of offers in its election manifesto. It’s a shower of gifts for the electorate anyway.
Emphasis is also placed on how Palaniswami assumed the post of chief minister after J Jayalalithaa passed away. Palaniswami spoke about his humble beginnings, his experience as a “farmer” and how he was elected by his party’s deputies, and not by Sasikala, as Stalin had accused him. DMK chairwoman Stalin said Palaniswami bowed down at Sasikala’s feet at the party meeting in 2017 when she appointed him chief minister. Sasikala herself was unable to fill the post due to a Supreme Court ruling in a disproportionate asset case, which led Sasikala to visit a prison in Bengaluru. Before leaving the station, Sasikala appointed Palaniswami for the CM position. On the other hand, the DMK referred to video shots of Palaniswami “sliding” on the ground to bow down to Sasikala and described him as a “crawl”.
Palaniswami countered the “crawl” charge, said he was not a crawling snake or lizard, and argued that he was elected by MPs.
Videos of Sasikala’s meeting with Palaniswami and other party deputies, as well as current scenes of Palaniswami and Stalin have gone viral on social media.
Palaniswami chose to strike back at the DMK by declaring that Stalin’s father, Mr. Karunanidhi, became chief minister in 1969 after CN Annadurai’s death by “shortcuts”. Stalin, in his defense, says he was elected president of the party after nearly 50 years of work in the DMK, in a gradual rise, from MLA, mayor, minister, chief deputy minister, party treasurer, chairman in office, and finally to President.
In the absence of pillar DMK Karunanidhi, who walked like a colossus in the state, and Jayalalithaa, a charismatic leader of the AIADMK, Palaniswami and Stalin are working to fill what political observers see as a ‘void’ ‘.
(R Rangaraj is a seasoned journalist and historian. The opinions expressed are personal.)