New Delhi: Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), a partner of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) in Tamil Nadu, announced late Tuesday evening that it would not be part of the alliance for the upcoming local body elections in the state in October.
— DT Next (@dt_next) September 14, 2021
In a statement issued by the PMK, which is doing the rounds on social media, its president G.K. Mani said it would contest the polls alone, and the decision to do so was based on a unanimous vote by party functionaries in a virtual conference. Mani added the decision was taken in the party’s best interest.
The PMK had been a part of the AIADMK alliance both for the 2019 parliamentary elections as well as the Tamil Nadu assembly elections held earlier this year. The BJP is also a part of this alliance in the state, and will contest the local body polls with the AIADMK.
Representative of Vanniyars
Considered to be the political representative of the Vanniyar community in Tamil Nadu, PMK founder S. Ramadoss had announced just ahead of the state polls held on 6 April that the party would not hold any alliance talks with the AIADMK until its demand for reservation for the community was met.
Right before the implementation of the model code of conduct for the state elections, the AIADMK — then in power — had granted a 10.5 per cent reservation for Vanniyars in government jobs and education.
Though the AIADMK and its allies lost the 2021 state polls, P. Muthukumar, associate professor and head of political science department at Chennai’s Presidency College, told ThePrint, that the current DMK government was unlikely to remove the reservation, “to avoid upsetting the party’s Vanniyar vote bank, and also because the SC had refused to put a stay order on it”.
Now, with the PMK announcing its exit from the alliance Wednesday, AIADMK leaders alleged it was “obvious” that the party was eyeing a tie-up with the ruling DMK. However, the PMK claims its exit from the alliance was only restricted to the local body elections, and AIADMK leaders too have not ruled out another future alliance with the party.
Only temporary measure, says PMK
Explaining the reason for leaving the alliance, senior PMK leader Balu K. explained that the only reason for opting out of the alliance for the local body elections was that there was not enough time to discuss the seat-sharing arrangement with the AIADMK. Balu also said party cadres wanted to contest the local body polls, which they would not have been able to do under the alliance.
“We have great respect for the AIADMK and EPS (former CM Edapaddi K. Palaniswami) and there is no bad blood. This is only a temporary measure for the local body polls. We are otherwise allies of the NDA and AIADMK,” said Balu.
It is, however, also being claimed that the PMK left the alliance due to a leadership crisis in the AIADMK.
Rubbishing such claims, senior AIADMK leader C. Ponnaiyan told ThePrint that the “AIADMK was inseparably united under the joint leadership of EPS and OPS (former deputy CM O. Panneerselvam)”, and that these claims were all “lies” being propagated.
Ponnaiyan said the PMK walking out of the alliance would in no way impact the prospects of the AIADMK, and asserted that the other party had won only five of the 24 seats it had contested for in the Vanniyar belt in the recent state elections.
“The people have decided against them,” said Ponnaiyan.
AIADMK spokesperson Nirmala Periyasamy, meanwhile, alleged that it was obvious that the PMK was fighting this election alone so that it could later ally with the DMK.
“Dr Ramadoss is not a reliable politician. This has always been his style, everyone in Tamil Nadu knows… of moving between parties,” she alleged.
Muthukumar also told ThePrint that the PMK was the “best in opportunistic politics” and was known for moving between alliances according to its needs.
Muthukumar added: “The PMK has always been dicey during elections. With this move, they are signalling to the DMK that ‘you can call us’. It seems unlikely, however, that the DMK will welcome an alliance with PMK. It is also important to understand that local body elections don’t depend on the party, but the personality.”
As for the AIADMK, Muthukumar said the opposition party had bigger problems than the PMK to take care of. Like Ramadoss, Muthukumar said the AIADMK was facing “a leadership crisis (between EPS and OPS) in the party and internal issues”.
Though upset with the PMK, the AIADMK has not, however, ruled out another future alliance with the PMK, with both Periyasamy and Ponnaiyan saying, “in politics, one should never say never”.
(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)