As Tamil Nadu is gearing up for the May 16 Assembly election, there are too many leaders aspiring to be the chief minister of the southern state.
Know your state: Tamil Nadu
To begin with, J Jayalalithaa, the chief of the AIADMK and the current incumbent looks to be the most likely leader to return as a record sixth time as the chief minister of Tamil Nadu. Though she faced some setbacks like in the disproportionate assets case and the relief operation in the Chennai floods last year, the AIADMK supremo still looks to be on a strong wicket to emerge victorious again this time.
In the DMK, the other major party in the state, too, there are two chief ministerial candidates in M Karunanidhi and his son MK Stalin, the party's treasurer. Of course, Karunandihi is the still the party's main face but at 92, age is not on his side and that makes Stalin, a very powerful leader in the state to become the automatic next choice. Last year, Karunanidhi had even said on Stalin's birthday that he would not run for the chief minister's post in 2016. That had made Stalin's supporters excited but yet there has not been any formal announcement by Karunanidhi about Stalin's candidature.
According to many observers, Karunanidhi is avoiding to utter the obvious to ensure that he himself does not lose significance in the party after such an announcement. The absence of K Kanimozhi in the state and the sidelining of Dayanidhi Maran has also meant that Stalin's road is clear.
Actor-turned-politician Vijaykanth of the DMDK has also expressed his mind of becoming the king rather than the king maker in this election and decided to contest the polls alone. It suggets that he, too, harbours an amibition to become the state's chief executive---something he had done in 2006 but failed miserably.
Similarly, MDMK's Vaiko who formed an alliance called the People's Welfare Front comprising his own party besides two communist parties and the VCK of Thol Thirumavalavan, also has hope to emerge at the top but the Dali-based VCK's stand that its leader Thol Thirumavalavan should be made the CM candidate could cause more problems in the alliance in the near future. Reports also said that in January, the VCK chief had floated name of Nallakannu, a communist leader as the face of the alliance but it was opposed by Vaiko's close aide Mallay Sathya.
The PMK, on the other hand, has also projected former Union minister Anbumani Ramadoss as its CM candidate. In fact, it did so in early 2015, thus exposing the rift within the NDA for the PMK was an ally of the BJP in the 2014 Lok Sabha election.
The individual ambitions of people like Vijaykanth (who was also an ally of the BJP in the general elections) and Ramadoss have left the BJP in an isolated position. Though analysts said Vijaykanth had kept the NDA guessing, reports said the BJP is also harbouring a goal of having its own chief ministerial candidate.
S Seeman, the chief of the Naam Tamilar Katchi (NTK), another party in the state, is also known to be aspiring for the chief minister's post. The NTK, known to be an LTTE sympathiser, is contesting the state polls for the first time and has fielded candidates in all 234 seats.
Former Union minister G K Vasan, who quit the Congress to revive his father G K Moopanar's Tamil Maanila Congress in November 2014, is also hoping to bag the top job in the next Assembly election.
It is not the first time that Tamil Nadu has seen so many CM aspirants but it will be interesting to see this time how many of these leaders will be able to pursue their dreams in the post-poll scenario. In case Jayalalithaa fails to dominate the election as many are expecting her to, will these parties be willing to let go their ambition and come together to stop the AIADMK's return to power?