By aligning with the BJP, the AIADMK has yielded its political space in the state to the aunt-nephew duo of Sasikala-Dinakaran, and the parliamentary election to the DMK-Congress combine, says A Ganesh Nadar.
What does the Bharatiya Janata Party have that the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam doesn't have?
It has a bunch of cases against big wigs in Tamil Nadu's ruling party whose leaders believe that cases against them will be diluted as they now have the ruling party at the Centre on their side.
They don't seem to realise that a parliamentary election is imminent and the ruling party might not be the same four months from now -- never mind how remote that seems now.
So what does the BJP actually bring to the table for the AIADMK? It makes sure that the Muslims and Christians don't vote for the AIADMK.
Most Muslims were always with the DMK, and now the rest will also follow.
The PMK believes it is the sole representative of the Vanniyars, but Vijaykanth of the Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam also believes that he is the sole representative of the same caste.
What both the PMK and the DMDK seem to forget is that the Vanniyars are also present in both the Dravidian majors, and that the PMK actually doesn't bring anything to the table.
The BJP also firmly believes that when the minorities vote en masse against it, the majority will naturally firm up behind it. This is where it is wrong in Tamil Nadu.
Except the Brahmins who comprise a minuscule percentage of Tamil Nadu voters, the rest of the majority are with either of the Dravidian majors.
The ruling party in Tamil Nadu will be more worried about the by-elections to 21 assembly constituencies than the parliamentary elections. This is because it barely has a majority in the present state assembly, with the Congress and DMK having 99 seats out of the 213 now present in the House.
Thus, the 21 seats are crucial to the government's survival.
Here is where T T V Dinakaran becomes important. Who deserts him or who stays with him is not important. In Tamil Nadu, by-elections have always been won by the ruling party, and he smashed that rule in the RK Nagar bypoll.
If the AIADMK had to lose a by-election, history tells us that it should have been to the DMK, but that did not happen this time.
T T V Dinakaran, contesting as an Independent, not only trounced the ruling AIADMK, but also resulted in the DMK candidate losing his deposit.
Dinakaran, like superstar Rajnikanth, will stay away from the parliamentary election and will instead concentrate on those 21 seats. Whether the AIADMK can withstand his blitz remains to be seen.
Money is distributed in Tamil Nadu in every election and nobody has been able to stop it. Little chance, then, they will cage T T V or ensure his incarcerated aunt Sasikala doesn't play politics from jail.
We must not forget that the Election Commission postponed the Thiruvarur by-election after announcing it, blaming Cyclone Gaja for the deferment. But the people of Tamil Nadu firmly believe that fear of Dinakaran was the reason for postponing the election.
The AIADMK is scared of elections after J Jayalalithaa passed away is what common folks think in Tamil Nadu. Why else would the AIADMK refuse to hold panchayat elections due since 2016, when even Kashmir has had panchayat polls?
By aligning with the BJP, even if they were arm-twisted into doing so, the AIADMK leadership has yielded their political space in the state to the aunt-nephew duo of Sasikala-Dinakaran, and the parliamentary election to the DMK-Congress combine.
The central government blocked funds to panchayats in Tamil Nadu as there were no elected representatives. Will that change now that the AIADMK is part of the National Democratic Alliance?
Even if it releases the panchayat funds before the elections, the BJP will not help its cause in the state. It will only make matters worse as the people will then believe that panchayat elections will never be held in the state.
What Tamils find particularly amazing is that panchayat elections were held last year in troubled Kashmir, but not in Tamil Nadu which is among the best governed states in the country.
That itself begs the question. How is it that the state, which has faced political instability since Jayalalitha's death in December 2016, continues to be among the best governed in the country?
That's because Tamil Nadu politicians allow the civil service and police to function independently while they go about doing what they do best. No prizes for guessing what that is.