Caste turn friends to foes

CHENNAI; Never before Tamil Nadu witnessed so many caste-based parties jumping into fray for the May 10 Assembly polls and, in the process, friends have turned foes and foes have become friends.

The DMK-led NDA front in the state now consists of 18 parties, at least eight of them caste-based. The DMK president and Chief Minister M Karunanidhi, in his eagerness to rope in s many parties as possible, has distributed 68 of the 234 seats to 17 of his allies.

Two Dalit-based organisations, Pudhiya Tamizhagam and Dalit Panthers of India have been alloted ten and eight seats respectively.

Yadhav-based Makkal Tamil Desam and Mudaliar-based New Justice Party, both floated by former AIADMK men, have been allotted six and five seats respectively. Other four castes have been given one representation each.

In the other front, led by AIADMK, PMK, a vanniyar-dominated party, and a foe-turned-friend, has been allotted 27 seats by Jayalalitha.

The seat-sharing exercise in both the fronts was not without the usual hiccups.

Peeved over the denial of adequate number of seats, Tamizhaga Rajiv Congress, headed by former Union Minister Vazhapadi Ramamurthy, walked out of NDAnda. He has now decided to work for the success of AIADMK-led front although his party has chosen not to contest.

Piqued over non-allotment of three specific seats to it, MDMK, an offshoot of DMK, also walked out of NDA. It has decided not to oppose BJP candidates in 21 seats and will fight in the remaining 213 seats.

In the other `secular' camp, the Janata Dal (S) walked out, annoyed over the denial of tickets to it. The two communist parties, which have been allotted eight seats each, accepted the constituencies allotted to them after making some noise.

Meanwhile, a third front has also been formed in which Janata Dal (S) is a partner. The initiative for the formation of the front has been taken by some former AIADMK ministers who have floated the `Puratchi Thalaivar Anna DMK'. The seat-sharing exercise among them is yet to be settled.

Irked over the forging of an electoral tie-up with AIADMK by the TMC, former Union finance minister and senior TMC leader, P Chidambaram, floated a `temporary forum' called TMCtmc Democratic Forum.

Chidambaram managed to get a couple of seats from the DMK leadership for his supporters who joined the forum. The forum, in its campaign, has decided to highlight `good governance' provided by the DMK.

Feeling `betrayed' by AIADMK, Tamil Nadu Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam, reviewed its support to it and decided that in over 100 constituencies it would campaign against AIADMK candidates.

With the MDMK also contesting independently, the state is facing a four-cornered fight in most of the constituencies.

`Corruption' during the AIADMK regime, `good' governance under DMK are some of the issues being thrown up before the electorate, numbering nearly 4.75 crore. Top leaders of both the fronts, Karunanidhi and Jayalalitha, have already started their campaign.

TMC and Congress, which have been given 32 and 15 seats respectively by AIADMK, are yet to launch their electioneering. TMC leader G K Moopanar is recuperating in a city hospital after he fractured his hip bone.

Source:"New Indian Express", Chennai Edn., 23-04-01, Monday
Referred by: Mukundan CM
Published on: April 23, 2001
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