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Poll fate: Friends then, enemies now

Written by: Staff

Chennai, Apr 9: It is always marriages of convenience and quick divorces whenever political parties strike alliances in Tamil Nadu.

With the state gearing up for the May 8 Assembly polls, politicians have once again demonstrated there could be no permanent friends or foes in politics.

Exactly a month ago, the ruling AIADMK was left friendless but the political scenario changed overnight after MDMK General Secretary Vaiko made a dramatic switchover, quitting the DMK-led Democratic Progressive Alliance (DMK) to join the AIADMK camp.

The DMK and the MDMK, which fought the 2004 Lok Sabha elections, became foes all of a sudden, spitting fire against each other in the run-up to the elections.

The Dalit Panthers of India (DPI), too, was friendly with the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), sharing the Tamil Protection Movement platform till a month ago. But now they do not see eye to eye.

The DPI led by Dalit Leader Thol Thirumavalavan had to part ways with PMK Founder Leader S Ramadoss when he could not find a berth in the DMK-led DPA. Once a critic, Mr Thirumavalavan, overnight became a friend of Ms Jayalalithaa.

If the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was a friend of the AIADMK during the 2004 Lok Sabha elections, it became its rival in the Assembly elections, heading a separate front.

The All India Latchiya DMK, led by Actor-Director Vijaya T Rajender and the fledgling Tamil Nadu Democratic Congress, floated by rebel Congress leader Tindivanam K Ramamurthy, were the vocal supporters of the AIADMK till the other day, but turned against it after they were denied berths in the front.

The All India Moovendar Munnetra Kazhagam led by Dr N Sethuraman had a close association with the DMK. But when a misunderstanding surfaced over nominating a candidate, the party severed its ties and walked out. A number of minor parties, which were supporting one of the two Dravidian parties, had either moved to the BJP-led front or the newly formed nine-party Social Justice Front by the Samajwadi Party, after they were denied berths.

The All India Forward Bloc too pledged support to Ms Jayalalithaa and when a misunderstaning cropped up, actor politician Karthik, heading the party in the state, announced his decision to go it alone.

In the process, the party suffered a split with its lone MLA L Santhanam, throwing his lot with Ms Jayalalithaa and securing a seat for himself.

The ''marriage of convenience'' in the state began as early as 1967 when the DMK formed the ''Grand Alliance'' with the Swathantra Party, led by Rajaji, joining the alliance to oppose the Congress.

Dissatisfied with the Congress's economic policy, Rajaji had quit the party and launched ''Forum for Free Enterprises'' before christening it as Swatantra Party.

The DMK sprang a major surprise in 1980 when it chose to align with the Congress, putting aside the differences it had with the party during Emergency in 1975.

Earlier, the party had an alliance with the Congress in 1971. But the relations between the two parties hit a new low when during the Emergency, the Prime Minister Indira Gandhi dismissed the DMK Government and put the party leaders behind the bars.

When Ms Gandhi visited the state after Congress's drubbing in the 1977 Lok Sabha elections, the DMK organised a ''bloody agitation'' against her. However, three years later, the bitter foes became friends. The two parties joined hands to take on MGR in the 1980 Assembly elections, only to be rejected by the people.

It was during this election, DMK Supremo M Karunanidhi coined the famous quote ''Nehruvin Magale Varuga, Nilayana Atchi Tharuga'' (Welcome Nehru's daughter and provide a stable government at the Centre).

However, the political scenario changed in the very next elections with AIADMK forging alliance with the Congress in the 1984, 1991 and 1996 Assembly elections.

The Congress, which went on its own in the 1989 elections, suffered a vertical split in 1996 when G K Moopanar protested against party's alliance with the AIADMK in the Assembly poll that year.

He had launched the now defunct Tamil Maanila Congress (TMC) and swept the 1996 Assembly and Lok Sabha polls in the company of the DMK.

Mr Moopanar, however, surprised all, when he chose to align with the very same AIADMK in the 2001 Assembly elections. After his death, the party merged with the Congress.

The DMK too surprised political pundits when it chose to align with the BJP for the 1999 Lok Sabha elections, after dubbing it as ''communal''.

The alliance continued till the fag end of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) Government when it DMK walked out of the alliance in 2004 to forge an alternative alliance.

The wheel turned a full circle and the DMK, after a gap of more than two decades, forged an alliance with the Congress in the run up to the 2004 lok Sabha elections.

NDA's other constituents, the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) and the MDMK also followed suit.

On being left friendless, the BJP, forgetting its bitter experience with the AIADMK, which had pulled down the 13-month old Vajpayee Government in 1999, revived its alliance with the party only to part ways soon after the debacle in the elections.



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