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Who will be the next CM of Tamil Nadu?

May 5, 2016

Who can be the next Tamil Nadu CM?

In star struck Tamil Nadu, the overlapping line of demarcation between Tollywood and politics has besmirched all for decades. It is not just the Tamil superstars like (late) MG Ramachandran and J.Jayalalithaa but even the “behind the scene” mortals such as script writers C.N. Annadurai and M. Karunanidhi, who donned the mantle of chief ministership in the film-obsessed state since its inception. For a short period of 23 days, even MGR’s widow and former Tamil actress Janaki Ramachandran could become the CM on 7 January 1988 but her political career at the helm was cut short by the imposition President’s rule in the state on 30 January 1988.

The Contest Between Jayalalithaa and Karunanidhi

However, ever since 1989, the race for chief ministership was only between Jayalalithaa and Karunanidhi. They remain the formidable foe and hot contenders for the CM’s post even in 2016. In between, the only person to get a chance to be the chief minister of Tamil Nadu was O. Panneerselvam – a Jayalalithaa loyalist who had to step into the boots of his mentor twice in September 1991 when the Supreme Court had barred the then CM Jayalalithaa from holding office, and again in September 2014 when Jayalalithaa was convicted in the disproportionate assets case. On both occasions, he relinquished the office when Jayalalithaa returned after winning legal battles.

Pannerselvam, too, is contesting the elections this year but unless some dramatic developments happen concerning Jayalalithaa, he has no hopes of a third term as CM.

As for Jayalalithaa and Karunanidhi, their epic rivalry continues. The question, though, is whether the latter can upstage the incumbent CM Jayalalithaa, as had been a ritual every five year since 1991?

What is interesting is that neither Jayalalithaa’s All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) nor Karunanidhi’s Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) has officially declared their CM candidates so far. But isn’t it rather understood that both Jaya and Karuna remain the tallest leaders of their respective parties.

Dr. S. Anbumani Ramadoss, Captain Vijaykanth and MK Stalin

In a multi-cornered contest, the other players have sought to give this a political dimension, hoping to exploit it for their own benefit. After all, besides these two, there are others too, who are eyeing the coveted post this time: most prominently, the Pattali Makkal Katchi’s CM aspirant Dr. S Anbumani Ramadoss and the People’s Welfare Front’s CM face Captain Vijaykanth. The latter, being a Tollywood hero, even carries forward the legacy of “filmy politicians” in Tamil Nadu.

Therefore, there’s little surprise that Vijaykanth’s wife, Premalatha, who is also the women wing’s leader of the DMDK (founded by her husband), raked up the issue at a recent election meeting. She stated that while the AIADMK was shying away from declaring Jaya as its CM face because the sword of Damocles hung over her head in the form of Supreme Court verdict in the disproportionate assets case against her, the family feud between Karuna and his son MK Stalin (DMK treasurer) was the reason behind party’s silence over who should be its CM candidate.

This brings the focus on Stalin, a former deputy chief minister, who could win 2011 assembly elections by a narrow margin of 2734 votes at Kolathur constituency.

But can Vijaykanth create history by annexing the crown of the CM after elections? It may sound like hoping against hope but he has the backing of Vaiko’s Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, the CPM, the CPI, Thol Thirumavalavan’s Dalit party Vidhuthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi, and GK Vasan’s Tamil Maanila Congress, who have joined hands to form the People’s Welfare Front.

Yet, he also faces challenge from Ramadoss, whose party, the PMK, has decided to go solo in the elections, contesting all the 234 constituencies.

Prospects of Parties and Candidates

If one goes by the party position in the state assembly after the 2011 state elections, Jaya’s prospects seem the brightest as her AIADMK was way ahead of all parties then with 150 seats. The prospects of Ramadoss, by that count, seems the bleakest as his PMK had won just 3 seats in the state legislature.

Yet, assumptions based on these figures can be grossly misleading. After all, in 2011, the AIADMK had gained a huge 93 seats while the DMK had lost 77. Even Ramadoss’s PMK had then lost 15 seats as an alliance partner of DMK.

The question, therefore, finally gets down to whether the AIADMK can create history by winning for the second consecutive term. In that case, none but Jaya will remain the undisputed queen and others can wait.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed are of those of the author and do not represent the views of Elections.in.

I am a journalist, educationist and filmmaker with over twenty years of experience in the media industry. I have worked in different capacities in all formats (print, television and web) in prestigious media organizations in India and abroad. As a journalist I have covered social issues, natural calamities, successive state assembly as well as parliament elections since 1989, government offices, Indian political parties, state legislative assemblies as well as Indian Parliament.

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