A year after “Amma’s” death, Tamil Nadu politics yet to fill the void

Former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa. Photo: IANS

Chennai, December 5:  A year after the death of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa, her party All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam  (AIADMK) in particular and Tamil Nadu politics in general is yet to fill the void, left behind by ‘Amma’.

If initially,  AIADMK was in the clutches of VK Sasikala, a long time aide of Jayalalithaa, the scenario changed soon after the death of Jayalalithaa. The power tussle that followed between Tamil Nadu’s caretaker chief minister O Panneerselvam camp and VK Sasikala and later the infighting within  Edappadi Palaniswami camp exposed the lack of strong second rung leaders in AIADMK. One of the reasons being pointed out by observers of Tamil Nadu politics for the recent fall out is that when  Jayalalithaa was alive she was the lone power centre of the party. She ensured that there was no threat to her leadership for which she kept the second rung leaders in check.  The story is no different in the case of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) either, with many alleging that the party failed to utilize the political space presented to them by their rival AIADMK.

P Ramajayam, Centre for Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive policy and a keen observer of Tamil Nadu politics told India Live Today that there is a great intellectual vacuum in all the regional parties of Tamil Nadu.

“I feel that the regional parties in Tamil Nadu will soon cease to exist. The popular personalities who ruled the Tamil Nadu politics actually prevented any chance of intellectual brainstorming within the party over political affairs. So there is a great intellectual vacuum in all parties. No party is allowing any debate on any political or social issues. They managed to corner intellectuals within the party,” he said.

Though main parties AIADMK  and its political rival DMK- two major Dravidian parties since the mid-1960s – trace their ideologies either directly or indirectly to the Dravidian movement of Periyar EV Ramasamy, over the years the politics they represent have deteriorated.

“The emergence of leaders like MGR and Jayalalithaa and their long rule made the present generation ignorant about democracy. They still believe in personality cult and not in democracy. Jayalalithaa’s death has ended the single power center rule. But more worrying is the fact that BJP is playing conflict politics in Tamil Nadu. It is making use of conflicts, to make political inroads in Tamil Nadu” Ramajayam opined.

But the political scene is fast changing with common people starting to question the way in which the political parties carry out the affairs.   “In Tamil Nadu, corruption was prevailing in disguise of development. People became more aware about it after the death of Jayalalithaa and the power tussle that followed,” senior journalist Jeemon Jacob said.

He said good governance matter to people and that legacy of any particular leader would not make any impact on the minds of people anymore . “People forgot Jayalalithaa within a few months after her death. Even her first death anniversary, did not make any effect in Tamil Nadu. Some media carried reports on various aspects of Tamil Nadu politics after Jayalalithaa’s death. Probably by next year, even these media may forget her,” he said.

The political developments will come to a full circle with the by-election in Jayalalithaa’s constituency, RK Nagar. Already, popular Tamil actors Rajinikanth and Kamal Hassan have announced that their entry into politics is just matter of time.  Though it is too premature to discuss how a possible entry of Rajinikanth and Kamal Hassan could change the political equations in Tamil Nadu, the political parties in the state have already started serious discussions on it. The national parties – BJP, as well as Congress – are looking at the situation to make a formidable foothold on Tamil Nadu political arena. The first indicator to the new political developments will be the RK Nagar by-election and it’s outcome.