The Tamil Nadu politics is in for yet another bout of turmoil. A bumpy road lies ahead for the AIADMK government following the shock verdict in RK Nagar assembly by-poll. In an election that was seen as a battle for Jayalalithaa’s political legacy, the surprise victory by dissident leader and Sasikala’s nephew TTV Dhinakaran will dramatically alter the political equations in a state that has been on a political roller coaster since the death of Jayalalithaa in December last year. The 40,000 odd victory margin of Dhinakaran, a key member of the much-maligned “Mannargudi family”, has come as a severe blow to the AIADMK which was hoping to emerge as a sole inheritor of Amma’s legacy. The poll outcome is also a setback for DMK which needed a win to signal its revival as a counter to the political instability in the state. Despite hopes of a favourable judicial verdict in the 2G spectrum case leading to rich electoral dividends, the DMK candidate lost the deposit. Armed with the public mandate in Jayalalithaa’s constituency, Dhinakaran, who contested as an independent, has already held out a warning that the present government would be dethroned within three months. For someone who spent 40 days in Tihar Jail on charges of bribing an Election Commission official and who faced allegations of distributing money to voters, the victory marks a symbolic revenge against both the AIADMK and the BJP whose central leadership was believed to have worked in concert with the ruling party in the state.
The season of political migration appears imminent as the Dhinakaran faction has already started poaching MLAs from the ruling camp. Despite the merger, there is still an underlying sense of friction between the two camps headed by E Palaniswami and O Pannerselvam. The gulf is likely to widen further in the days ahead with Dhinakaran group staking its claim to Amma’s legacy and declaring itself as the real AIADMK. Even a few months ago, no political analyst would have given Dhinakaran any chance of winning the election. However, Tamil Nadu voter is always known for throwing up surprises. The fact that the BJP got less number of votes than NOTA reflects total rejection of the national party which was seen to be indulging in backseat driving to control the affairs of the AIADMK and its government, a formulation unacceptable for Tamil Nadu voters. Clearly, Dhinakaran is seen by the voter as someone who can counter the manoeuvres of the saffron party. Going to the polls with a new election symbol and virtually no party apparatus, he positioned himself as an underdog. The AIADMK legislators and MPs will now come under increasing pressure to cross over to the Dhinakaran camp.