The alliance between the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) and the ruling AIADMK in Tamil Nadu seems to have hit a rough patch, and with the approaching Assembly elections, its ripples are being felt in the Opposition camp too.
PMK has been sending signals that they might look for other alliance partners, as the Edappadi Palaniswami-led government is unlikely to fulfil their demand of 20 per cent reservation for the Vanniyar community in government jobs and higher education.
Dr Ramadoss, the founder of the PMK, is firm on his reservation demand. But with AIADMK showing no sign of giving in, the party had been knocking at the doorsteps of the state’s main opposition, DMK.
It is worth noting that in October 2019, while campaigning for the Vikravandi assembly by-election, DMK leader MK Stalin had said if they are elected to power, a 20 per cent quota would be provided for Vanniyars, and a memorial for former Tamil Nadu Minister A Govindasamy, who hailed from the Vanniyar community, would be built.
At present, however, according to sources, while the DMK has shown interest in accepting PMK into their fold and giving them a respectable number of seats, they haven’t made any promises over the reservation demand, fearing wrath of other communities.
PMK President GK Mani on Thursday said Dr Ramadoss will decide on the alliance only if assured on the Vanniyar reservation demand.
“There will be protests on January 29 at every collectorate across the 38 districts in Tamil Nadu. We expect 50,000 people to gather in each district, especially in Dharmapuri, which is the fortress of PMK. People have realised they can get the reservation only if they follow Ayya (Dr.Ramadoss). All the Vanniyar community people, even those who in the opposite party, are supporting our demand. If the government doesn’t pay heed to our demands even after these protests, Ayya will lead the next protest and take a further decision,” Mani said.
A senior PMK leader from the northern district of Tamil Nadu said for the Assembly elections, Dr Ramadoss is considering options apart from the two Dravidian parties.
“We stand with our leader. It’s [the quota] been our demand for 40 years. We are ready to even contest alone, as we did in 2016. Though we failed to win seats, we acquired a considerable vote share and gave a tough fight. I don’t think CM Edappadi will take the risk of neglecting us. Also, even if we break with the AIADMK, we have other options.
We can join hands with parties like MNM, DMDK, AMMK, PT, etc. and form a third front. This election is not like others, where charismatic leaders like Kalaignar and Jayalalithaa were present and people voted for them. This time, I feel there is an equal chance for all, it is just about how well the parties attract people with their welfare schemes,” he said.
PMK’s dilemma is having an indirect impact on their rival party, Viduthalai Siruthaigal Katchi (VCK). The party is in alliance with DMK, and VCK leader and MP Thol Thirumalavan has said they can never be part of any alliance that has PMK or the BJP.
Earlier this month, VCK had said they would contest the 2021 Assembly elections under a separate symbol, unlike the 2019 Parliamentary elections. However, it has been learnt that the party is reconsidering the decision and may contest on the DMK’s rising sun symbol.
Political observers believe it is unlikely that the DMK will include PMK and make unnecessary chop and change to their successful alliance.
“If DMK decides to accommodate PMK, there will be a change in the number of seats they can allocate to other alliance partners. For example, let’s take Congress, which is the DMK’s biggest ally. If PMK is brought into this alliance, Congress will have to forego some seats, which they might not agree to. I am sure both DMK and Congress don’t want that,” a senior political expert said.