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Local body polls: AIADMK looks to bounce back, DMK to test grassroots

The Statesman logo The Statesman 01-08-2021 SNS Web
M. K. Stalin standing in front of a crowd: Local body polls: AIADMK looks to bounce back, DMK to test grassroots © Provided by The Statesman Local body polls: AIADMK looks to bounce back, DMK to test grassroots

Tamil Nadu’s next salient battle will be fought in the local body polls.

As DMK assumed power after Assembly polls, ministers have made claims about their handling of the Covid crisis – the increase in testing and vaccinations. Chief Minister MK Stalin has asked district-level leaders of his party to undertake a massive grassroots campaign highlighting his government’s handling role during the pandemic.

Stalin claimed his government and DMK’s relentless efforts have prodded the Centre to announce OBC reservation in MBBS and PG medical seats under the all-India quota, a longstanding demand of the OBC communities in the state. District-level office-bearers were asked by CM on Friday to campaign on the issue.

Senior DMK leader and state water resources minister, S Duraimurugan, said: “The DMK government under Thiru MK Stalin is moving ahead, keeping the promises given to the people of the state. You can see the change after our government came to power. As a political party, we are preparing ourselves for the local body elections and I can assure that we will win the local body elections handsomely.”

As poll rivals, AIADMK appears fraught with fissures especially after the Assembly poll drubbing as two former CMs-K Palaniswami and O Panneerselvam have been embroiled in recriminations.

Former interim general secretary of the party, VK Sasikala, was expelled from the party but is regularly communicating with party cadres and junior functionaries in a bid to stay afloat in the AIADMK’s power politics. A victory would help it although chances look bleak.

Interestingly, both Palaniswami and Panneerselvam have an excellent rapport with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP national leadership. Party cadres believe that the intervention of the BJP brass would lead to a truce between the two leaders, in time for the local body elections. Commendable victories there would help the party politically.

Senior leader of the AIADMK and party Deputy Coordinator, R Vaithalingam said: “There is no rift in the AIADMK. We are a democratic political party and we have a huge support base across the state. You must understand that after 10 years in power, we lost the 2021 Assembly elections after giving a tough fight to the DMK and in the local body polls we will register emphatic victories.”

Political observers explained that DMK’s decision of 10.5 per cent reservation for the Vanniyar community in professional admissions and government jobs to whittle AIADMK’s influence of whose front the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), a political arm of the Vanniyar community,  is a part of.

PMK founder president, Dr S Ramadoss thanked the CM soon after the decision was announced.

The DMK is also trying to consolidate its hold over the Muslims and the Dalits through its alliance with the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) as part of its efforts to score a huge win in the local body elections.

MP and leader of VCK, Thol Thirumavalavan, said: “The local body elections are grassroots elections and the DMK-led front, of which we are a part, will win the elections by a very good margin. The DMK government has done extremely well after assuming office and this will be reflected in the local body polls. We are prepared for the local body elections and party cadres and functionaries are all geared up for the elections.”

C Rajeev, Director of think-tank Centre For Policy and Development Studies, based out of Chennai said: “The local body polls are an avenue for the DMK to test its popularity among the public and for the AIADMK a major opportunity to bounce back into the political space of Tamil Nadu. Both the Dravidian parties are taking up the challenge and are formulating plans and strategies to take on the opponent headlong and to ensure electoral victories.”

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