EPS Ministry survives for now

The two-judge bench of the Madras High Court has given a split verdict on the case challenging the disqualification by the Speaker of eighteen legislators of the AIADMK, belonging to the TTV Dinakaran faction. The case will now be heard by a third judge of the High Court.  This gives a reprieve to the EPS Government for the present. The ruling AIADMK has 116 legislators in the present House with an effective strength of 216 members, after the disqualification of the eighteen dissident MLAs. The Opposition DMK has 89, Congress 8 and IUML one. If the disqualification is ultimately upheld, the DMK’s majority will be reduced to just eighteen. Another nine or ten MLAs defecting will reduce the EPS Government to a minority. Meanwhile, last month Dinakaran floated his own party, the Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK). If the disqualification of the eighteen legislators is ultimately struck down by the High Court and they are recognized as a separate group, they are sure to join the AMMK, reducing the EPS ministry to a minority and forcing it to resign. .
Dinkaran is the nephew of V. K. Sasikala who claims to be the political heir of the late Jayalalithaa. Sasikala was convicted last year in a corruption case and is undergoing a four year prison sentence. She can neither fight an election on her own nor campaign for her nephew. The AIADMK is now a divided house. Neither Palaniswamy nor his deputy Panneerselvam can claim the legacy of Jayalalithaa. They have neither the charisma nor the halo of Amma. In the next Assembly election, the DMK now led by M. K. Stalin will have an advantage over the AIADMK. A Congress-DMK electoral alliance may prove beneficial to both the parties, especially because the Congress is now showing a great deal of accommodation for achieving complete unity of the opposition parties against the BJP in next year’s general elections. Conversely, the BJP will be more than willing to enter into an alliance with the AIADMK. But the extent of electoral success of a faction-ridden AIADMK without its charismatic leader is anybody’s guess. Karunanidhi having practically retired from politics due to old age, his mantle has fallen on his son Stalin. The next electoral battle will provide the litmus test of Stalin’s leadership qualities.

Friday, 15 June, 2018