What is the relief that DMK supremo M Karunanidhi may feel even over his party losing to the rival AIADMK, in a state where egos and personality clashes make for politics and election issues? That he may be spared the humiliation of having to swear in Jayalalitha as a member of the state assembly.
Under law, the pro-tem Speaker swears in new members on the Constitution of the state assembly and presides over the election of a new Speaker.
By convention, the legislator with the longest innings is chosen for the honour. It used to be that of Tamil Maanila Congress member A S Ponnammal, but she lost out as a party rebel from Nilakottai
Her place may now go to Karunanidhi, who returns to the House for the tenth term.
Should Karunanidhi decline the honour, it may go to a party colleague. DMK General Secretary and outgoing Education Minister K Anbazhagan, considered a greater Dravidian ideologue than Karunanidhi, may be named pro-tem Speaker.
Karunanidhi has hinted at quitting the assembly,
though leaving the final decision to the party and, given the personality problems involved, what used to be a casual consultation between Raj Bhavan and the pro-tem nominee, may acquire a formal
colour this time.
Jayalalitha is not a member of the assembly, so Karunanidhi will not have to swear her in as a member, nor will she have to repeat
every word that he utters while swearing in a member.
While other members are sworn in in groups, the chief minister and party leaders are honoured individually.
Karunanidhi may also not continue as Leader of the Opposition for long, if he decides to continue as a legislator and get himself elected as leader of the DMK group in the assembly.
The party has 29 seats in the new assembly -- against 23 required in a total of 234, for claiming official recognition as an Opposition party -- and is also the single largest group after the AIADMK. It is followed by the TMC with 22, and the PMK with 20, both allies of the incoming ruling party.
The TMC tally itself is likely to go up by one, if the party nominee wins in Cuddalore, where re-polling was underway on Monday.
TMC founder G K Moopanar is known to be considering a merger with the Congress parent, now that the assembly polls are behind him and the future looks brighter for a reunited party after the failure of the Bharatiya Janata Party, the other national party in the state, to make any great impact.
Such a merger will open up possibilities for the reunited party at one level, but immediately, the party would have won one more seat than the DMK, to claim the post of Leader of the Opposition.
Thus, Karunanidhi may have second thoughts about becoming DMK Legislature Party leader now, which would entail him the title of Leader of the Opposition, but which he may have to unceremoniously
forego if it came to that.
This too may weigh with him while deciding on continuing in
the new assembly, given that he had expressed his desire to retire from 'active legislative and administrative politics' even before the polls, when he declared that this would be the last election he would contest.
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