'Alliance with PMK gives AIADMK a booster dose for TN bypolls'
By  IANS | Updated:  Feb 21, 2019, 09:27 AM
The electoral pact between Tamil Nadu's ruling AIADMK and the PMK is a booster dose to the former in the bypolls for 21 assembly constituencies expected to be held along with the Lok Sabha polls, say political analysts.
"It will be a close contest in between the AIADMK and the DMK in the upcoming bypolls after the AIADMK-PMK alignment. There may not be any major problem for the AIADMK to win 10-11 seats and shore up its numbers in the Assembly," political commentator Maalan Narayanan told IANS.
The AIADMK and PMK Tuesday announced their pact under which the latter gets seven Lok Sabha seats to contest and one Rajya Sabha seat in 2019. The PMK, which does not contest bypolls as a policy, will also support the AIADMK in the assembly bypolls.
Out of the 21 vacant seats, 20 were held by AIADMK and one by the DMK. Of these, 18 seats fell vacant after the Speaker P Dhanapal disqualified the sitting AIADMK members, who has joined the camp of sidelined leader T.T.V. Dhinakaran, for "anti-party activities".
The other three fell vacant following the death of DMK supremo M. Karunanidhi and AIADMK's A.K. Bose and disqualification of AIADMK's P.Balakrishna Reddy after he was sentenced for three years in a rioting case.
The Election Commission recently submitted to the Madras High Court that it has time till April 24 to hold the bypolls. Whether the bypolls would be held along with Lok Sabha polls or separately has to be seen, but they cannot be postponed for long, said analysts.
According to another political analyst, Jhon Arokiasamy, the bypolls will be an "acid test" for the leadership of Chief Minister K. Palaniswami, DMK President M.K. Stalin and sidelined AIADMK leader-turned-AMMK chief Dhinakaran.
The AIADMK has entered the poll pact with the PMK with mainly with the bypolls in view and not just the Lok Sabha polls, he added.
"The expectation that the AIADMK would be able to win about 10 seats out of the 20 it held only after aligning with PMK clearly shows the ruling party's weakened position after (the death of party supremo and Chief Minister J.) Jayalalithaa and the split by Dhinakaran," Arokiasamy told IANS.
Narayanan said that the DMK closed its doors for the PMK much before by declaring it will not be part of its electoral alliance for the Lok Sabha polls, adding its calculation was that PMK, a stringent critic of the AIADMK, will not align with it and would have to go it alone in the Lok Sabha polls.
"It was a tactical move on the part of Chief Minister Palaniswami to rope in the PMK with an eye on the bypolls for assembly while DMK's calculations back-fired.
"The AIADMK has scored the first psychological advantage against the DMK. The DMK are criticising the PMK for the poll pact more than the ruling AIADMK. It only shows their disappointment at their strategy going wrong," he added.
Political analyst S. Raveenthran Thuraiswamy told IANS: "The vote share arithmetic seems to be in favour of the AIADMK-led alliance. But whether the chemistry will work in tandem is also to be seen."
He said the mood of the people and other factors would play up during the days closer to the polls.
Arokiasamy also said that the AIADMK has the "arithmetic advantage". "It will now field new faces in the bypolls. The party also enjoys the advantage of being in power. On the other hand, Dhinakaran will have to field the same set of people who were disqualified," he said.
The AIADMK can consolidate its position in the assembly even if it wins 8-9 seats in the bypolls, he said, adding that the polls will also test its strength of two leaves symbol under the current party leadership.
On the other hand, the DMK have to win more than 14 seats in the bypolls to bring down the AIADMK government, while the PMK can tilt electoral outcome in about eight seats in north Tamil Nadu, Arokiasamy said.
Narayanan said that the PMK cadres will vote as per the direction shown by their leadership and so it is "advantage AIADMK".
One other view is that the bypolls will be mainly a fight between two major castes -Gounder and Devars.
The Devar community may back Dhinakaran while Gounders will back the AIADMK, which will now also have the support from the Vanniar community, courtesy the PMK.
In the 235-member Assembly, whose current strength is 214, the AIADMK has 115 members, including the Speaker, followed by the DMK with 88. Of the remaining 11 seats, the Congress has eight, the IUML one, there is one Independent and one nominated member.
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