Palaniswami strains every nerve for the AIADMK to bounce back in LS polls

The 2024 Lok Sabha polls are a crucial test for AIADMK chief Edappadi K Palaniswami, aiming to improve the party's fortunes for the 2026 Assembly elections. Palaniswami has taken bold steps to assert his leadership, forming alliances and addressing key state issues. The results will determine his political future.

PTI | Chennai | Updated: 07-04-2024 08:58 IST | Created: 07-04-2024 08:58 IST
Palaniswami strains every nerve for the AIADMK to bounce back in LS polls
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The Lok Sabha polls 2024 is a litmus test for AIADMK chief Edappadi K Palaniswami as the party's electoral performance will have a considerable bearing in improving the fortunes of the outfit two years later when the state will go for Assembly polls.

When Palaniswami, who expelled his former colleague and ex-Chief Minister O Panneerselvam from the party in 2022, it was the beginning of several other steps that followed to cement his position as the undisputed party chief and partly to prepare the AIADMK for the 2026 Assembly election.

By snapping ties with the BJP in September last year, the AIADMK expected at least a couple of DMK's allies including the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi to join the alliance led by it.

However, that did not materialise and Palaniswami who often spoke of a ''mega alliance'' for the LS polls could only cobble up an alliance with Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam founded by the late actor-politician 'Captain' Vijayakanth and a couple of smaller outfits.

To the dismay of the AIADMK, the PMK, which fought alongside the AIADMK in 2021 Assembly polls joined hands with the BJP. Former legislator, M Thamimun Ansari-led Manithaneya Jananayaga Katchi, has extended support to the DMK front, though it was expected that MJK would support Palaniswami's party as it had severed ties with the Saffron party. Now, the AIADMK chief has changed his refrain from mega alliance to people's power by asserting that DMK President and Chief Minister M K Stalin is dependent on his allies whereas his party faced the polls with people's support and the strength they provided to the party. ''Victory is possible only with the people's strength (support) and it is on our side,'' EPS said in one of his poll rallies.

The 2024 LS polls is the first key election the AIADMK, led by Palaniswami, is facing following the expulsion of Panneerselvam and after breaking away from the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

Though defeated in 2021 Assembly polls after a decade in power, the AIADMK alongwith allies, including the PMK and BJP togther won an impressive 75 constituencies out of the total 234 seats in the Assembly.

Palaniswami, popularly known as EPS, has earnestly taken upon himself the task of proving that he is the true successor to party icons M G Ramachandran and 'Amma' J Jayalalithaa.

EPS, arguably the only star campaigner of the AIADMK, has to convincingly win a good number of seats in the Parliamentary polls for his party for his political graph to rise. Little wonder, Palaniswami faces a real test in the form of LS polls.

Electoral success will help strengthen an undisputed leader image, and validate decisions such as ousting OPS and bidding adieu to the BJP. Also, this will go a long way in charting a new course of action to capture power from the DMK.

It, however, appears to be an uphill struggle in the face of DMK's electoral heft, ably supported by its allies.

Starting with the April 2019 LS polls, the DMK has won every election in Tamil Nadu including the civic polls. The exception was the October 2019 bypolls to two Assembly seats in which the DMK front was humbled by the AIADMK, then ruling party.

The AIADMK now has to face the BJP as well, which is led by its up-and-coming leader, K Annamalai. The Saffron party is expected to give a real fight in several pockets of western region besides Karur, which has 54 contesting candidates, the highest in the state. Karur is the home turf of Annamalai, though he is contesting LS polls from Coimbatore, the hub of western Tamil Nadu.

In order to beat the odds, Palaniswami has been doing his best by targeting the DMK combine on all key state issues including the recent arrest of an alleged kingpin of an international drug cartel, Jaffer Sadiq who was expelled from the ruling party and steep increase in property taxes.

On the Cauvery issue, EPS has been pointedly asking why Stalin could not ''bring Cauvery waters to Tamil Nadu'' despite being in the INDIA alliance, as the Congress party, the principal constituent of the bloc is helming Karnataka. Palaniswami describes himself as a farmer who understands the travails of ryots.

However, EPS has not been very vocal in criticising the Centre and has confined himself to select themes like national parties, be it the Congress or BJP, saying they are not concerned about guarding the interests of Tamil Nadu and Cauvery issue.

As if to compensate, second-rung AIADMK leaders like C Ve Shanmugam are however abrasive when it comes to the BJP and its state chief Annamalai.

Though Chief Minister Stalin mocked the AIADMK days ago for not being able to specify who must govern the nation and who should not, an astute Palaniswami had said way back in January that there was no need to project a PM face to seek votes in LS polls.

EPS, addressing the ''Vellattum Mathasarbinmai'' (Let secularism win) rally of SDPI had asked if Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik and Andhra Pradesh CM Jagan Mohan Reddy had a 'PM face' to seek votes.

It remains to be seen if EPS, aided by a robust party apparatus across the state, will succeed in his game plan to reposition himself as the indispensable and undisputed AIADMK leader.

The AIADMK is contesting in 34 LS segments and its ally, the DMDK is in the fray in five seats. SDPI's VMS Mohamed Mubarak and Puthiya Tamizhagam leader K Krishnasamy are contesting in the AIADMK's Two leaves symbol from Dindigul and Tenkasi respectively. Tamil Nadu has 39 LS constituencies which goes to polls on April 19.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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