2006: A watershed year in TN political history

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Chennai, Dec 31 (UNI) 2006 may go down in the annals of Tamil Nadu political history as a watershed year with the state entering alliance era, bidding adieu to the single-party reign.

The formation of first minority government by the DMK with outside support from allies, the emergence of greenhorn Vijayakanth as third political force and the Marumalarchi DMK (MDMK) suffering a vertical split marked the political scenario in the last 12 months.

The year began with hectic political activities as the crucial Assembly elections was slated for May.

The DMK, which made a clean sweep of the 2004 Parliamentary elections by striking a grand seven-party rainbow alliance, tried to repeat the magic in the Assembly poll by retaining its flock together.

However, the AIADMK managed to upset the DMK's apple cart by luring the MDMK out of the Democratic Progressive Alliance in a last-minute coup of sorts.

Neverthless, the DMK came up with its trump card in the form of an election manifesto, promising a slew of attractive freebies, including free colour television sets, two acres of land to landless farmers, PDS rice at Rs two per kg and waiver of farmers' cooperative loans.

Though the freebies caught the imagination of voters, it failed to get a decisive mandate for the DMK, which had to be content with 96 seats in the 234-member House.

Even as expectations mounted over the possibility of a coalition government, with Congress MLAs openly expressing their wish to join the ministry, the DMK stood its ground and formed a government on its own with the outside support of its allies.

However, it has not been a smooth sailing for Chief Minister and DMK President M Karunanidhi as the compulsion of coalition politics held him back from implementing some of his pet projects such as establishing a satellite city near Chennai.

The local body elections in September also ruffled many a feather in the DPA camp, with the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) openly charging the DMK with blatant betrayal as its candidates were defeated by DMK men in some constituencies in violation of ''coalition dharma.'' The CPI(M), another ally, also severely criticised the Government for alleged violence and malpractices during polling in the Chennai city.

Though some of the allies are unhappy with the DMK for one reason or the other, they are in no mood to rock the boat much to the relief of the ruling party.

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