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Will Jayalalithaa split the DMK alliance?
February 17, 2006
On February 1, Pakistan thumped India at Karachi by 341 runs. Fifteen days later India had won the One-Day International series, with a game in hand. How do you explain the turn in fortunes?
If the Nehru-Gandhis are the first family of Indian politics, the Karunanidhi clan take the palm for being second. The DMK is really little more than a family-run corporation. And the family patriarch, M Karunanidhi, was wise enough to lay down clear lines of authority so that various branches of the younger generation would not clash.
The Marans -- the late Murasoli Maran having been Karunanidhi's nephew -- look after the family interests in Delhi. And the Stalin side, named for Karunanidhi's son, is in charge of Tamil Nadu operations.
None was in the same league as the DMK and the AIADMK, but each had its own areas of influence. Together, they were so effective that the DMK-Tamil Maanila Congress combine was decimated, while the Congress itself, as I recall, failed to win a single seat from Tamil Nadu. (The Tamil Maanila Congress consisted of those Congressmen who left Narasimha Rao, chiefly G K Moopanar and P Chidambaram.)
To sweeten the bait, Kalimuthu rhetorically demanded, 'Is Karunanidhi willing to announce Vaiko will be made deputy chief minister?' implying that Jayalalithaa would do so. To which Vaiko's colleague Nanjil Sampath responded, 'I thank Thiru Kalimuthu for welcoming Vaiko.'
When was the last time that the Sun TV channels bothered to show Vaiko? Sun TV, if you didn't know, is run by the Maran side of the Karunanidhi dynasty.
Almost exactly one year after the 2004 general election, by-elections were held in Kancheepuram and Gummidipundi assembly constituencies, in May 2005. To general surprise, the AIADMK won both seats, suggesting that Jayalalithaa had regained ground. If Vaiko bolts, the anointment of Stalin might have to wait a little longer. And who might go with him?
The danger is apparent to the Congress. Sonia Gandhi has done what she can, naming M Krishnaswamy to head the Tamil Nadu unit of her party. Don't be surprised if you have never heard of him, Krishnaswamy has one qualification that nobody else does -- he is the father-in-law of Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss, who is the son of the Pattali Makkal Katchi chief S Ramadoss. Dynastic politics is obviously not limited to the DMK and the Congress!
As I write, Vaiko has pulled a disappearing act for three days, calmly ignoring the DMK's calls for explanations. Add to this the fact that Jayalalithaa's birthday is on February 24, and you have all the ingredients for a thriller.
Switching channels, I hear Imran Khan denouncing Bob Woolmer for ignoring the talent on his side and being complacent, while India became more aggressive. Could you say the same of Jayalalithaa and Karunanidhi?
T V R Shenoy