This local body election in Tamil Nadu, PMK could be at a crossroads | Chennai News – Times of India

Local body elections for rural posts are here, but the election in just nine districts may appear insignificant politically for a state like Tamil Nadu, especially when it comes within a few months after the assembly election that saw the DMK bag a decisive victory.
One reason for considering the upcoming local body polls relatively inconsequential is because about 60% of the posts that are up for elections are not party-based.

Party symbols are not allotted, and candidates do not contest as party representatives. The other reason is that historically people tend to vote in favour of the ruling party candidates for the remaining 40% of the posts.
But simmering tension and palpable strains between allies have raised the question of whether there could be some political realignment.
While the AIADMK and BJP leaders have affirmed that their alliance would continue, there are undercurrents between the AIADMK and ally PMK.
PMK president G K Mani met chief minister M K Stalin recently to thank him for issuing a government order for implementing the 10% vanniyar reservation. PMK founder S Ramadoss on his part telephoned Stalin to thank him for the move.
On Monday, while the AIADMK boycotted the centenary celebrations of the Tamil Nadu legislature and unveiling of the portrait of former chief minister M Karunanidhi, presided over President Ram Nath Kovind, its allies the BJP, the PMK and the TMC took part.
For the PMK, it seems pragmatic to lean towards the ruling DMK, which is on a victory run, and strengthen its presence in the northern districts. The local body elections could be a litmus test for the PMK to prove it was indeed a strong player in northern Tamil Nadu.
In the assembly election, the PMK suffered a drubbing in the northern districts where the party was traditionally considered to have a strong base.
PMK leaders insist that the party was a constituent of the AIADMK alliance and that the question of shifting alliance does not arise. “Our leaders will take a call on alliances during the time of the local body election,” said party leader K Balu.
On the other hand, the DMK wants to prove its upper hand once again, after tasting victory in 43 of the 53 assembly segments in the eight northern districts.
Despite the success, the DMK continues to woo vanniyars by issuing the government order on 10.5% quota, in an apparent bid to consolidate its presence in northern Tamil Nadu.
Moreover, a substantial victory in the upcoming civic polls could also be an endorsement of sorts of its governance so far.
But the reaching out to vanniyars may not convert itself into an alliance with the PMK, say DMK leaders.
“We won 50% of the seats in the rural body elections held in 2019 when we were an opposition party. The people of these districts backed us in the assembly polls. Ever since we formed the government our popularity has grown. Now we will sweep 100% of the seats in the nine districts,” said DMK spokesman Constantine Ravindran.
He said, strategically, there was no need for an alliance with the PMK or the DMDK in the upcoming rural local body elections. “I don’t think there will be any political realignment in this local body elections,” he said.
But for the gestures of the PMK towards the DMK, sparking speculation that it might gravitate towards the ruling party, other major players have ruled out a shift in political alliances.
The AIADMK is also keen to retain the PMK for the fact that the party helped its candidates win Salem, Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri.
“As of now, PMK is with us. Neither have they stated otherwise, nor have we said that alliances are going to change. With regard to the elections, we are prepared to face the ballot box,” said former minister D Jayakumar.
Political analyst Tharasu Shyam said PMK might come handy for DMK in Salem, Krishnagiri and Dharmapuri districts in further elections rather than in northern districts in the upcoming local body polls. “The DMK has proved its mettle in the northern districts. Besides, the ruling party will have an advantage in the local body polls. But if at all there are any realignments, it could only be for future elections and the local body elections could be a precursor for it,” he said.


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