Unlike his predecessors, in Tamil Nadu, Palaniswami and MK Stalin are drawing a healthy political competition in a state where politics has been in an atmosphere full of bitterness, hostility and violence for nearly 50 years. In the assembly election results on May 2, the people of Tamil Nadu handed over the reins of power to the DMK for the next five years, putting an end to the ten-year rule of the AIADMK.
Palaniswami accepted the mandate and wished Stalin through Twitter. In response, Stalin sought support from Palaniswami and said that democracy is a confluence of the ruling party and the opposition. After the election results, this dialogue between the two prominent leaders of the Opposition may be a formality to you, but it is important for the politics of Tamil Nadu, because such occasions on the change of power have not been seen in the last several decades.
One of the major reasons for this is that there is no personal rivalry between Palaniswami and Stalin as it used to be between Karunanidhi and MG Ramachandran and later Karunanidhi and Jayalalithaa in history.
This was how the era of friendship started with enmity
This bitterness began when MG Ramachandran, the superstar and popular leader of Tamil cinema, split from DMK to form ADMK in 1972, later renamed AIADMK. Along with this, the friendship of MGR and Karunanidhi and the successful jugalbandi from the films of both of them to politics also came to an end. MGR won the election in 1977 after forming the new party and remained the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu until his death in 1987.
There was a desire to end each other’s party
According to senior journalist Durai Karunanidhi, ‘The personal rivalry of the two leaders gave rise to the politics of hate in Tamil Nadu. Both wanted to end each other’s party. DMK registered several false cases against MGR. When MGR came to power, he kept Karunanidhi away from electoral victory till his last breath. However, Durai also states that in spite of all this, there was a conversation between the two leaders and both shared public participation.
… when Jayalalithaa got Karunanidhi arrested in the middle of the night as CM
After MGR’s death, she was replaced by Jayalalithaa. Karunanidhi was elected Chief Minister in 1989 and Jayalalithaa became the Leader of the Opposition. Jayalalithaa had inherited enmity and this increased when a few days later there was violence between the two parties within the Legislative Assembly. Jayalalithaa accused herself of assault and came out of the assembly crying. Within a month of gaining power in 2001, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa arrested 78-year-old Karunanidhi at midnight on corruption charges. Police forcefully arrested Karunanidhi from his house at 2.45 pm. During this, Karunanidhi kept shouting ‘These people are killing me’.
Karunanidhi was in jail for a week
Explaining further about the incident, senior DMK leader and MP TKS Elangovan says, “Karunanidhi had to spend a week in jail. This is all Jayalalithaa wanted. He further showed no interest in the matter. ‘ Karunanidhi and Jayalalitha did not even see each other during the assembly action. According to senior journalist Durai, Jayalalithaa expelled some activists from her party simply because she came to know that he was talking to DMK cadres.
AIADMK-DMK members did not even talk
Recalling those days, DMK MP Elangovan said that even though the AIADMK MPs, MLAs in Delhi used to talk to him at the time of the meeting, he did not have the courage to speak in Chennai. According to Elangovan, “Jayalalithaa was so scared of AIADMK leaders that they used to talk to us in an airplane from Delhi to Chennai but did not even pass next to us as we stepped into Chennai.”
Changes started in the year 2016
However, the change in this atmosphere began when Stalin attended Jayalalithaa’s swearing-in ceremony in 2016. That too when all the DMK MLAs boycotted the ceremony. However, Karunanidhi later alleged that Jayalalithaa humiliated her son by sitting in the 16th row. But the very next day Jayalalithaa made it clear that this was not done intentionally. If she had known about Stalin’s arrival, she would have put him in the front row.
After Jayalalithaa’s death, stress decreases
After Jayalalithaa’s death in December 2016, the tension between the two parties began to subside. Palaniswami became the chief minister after a long battle of succession. The party was commanded by him and Panneerselvam. Senior journalist Karunanidhi Durai says, “Despite criticizing each other in the assembly, leaders of the ruling and opposition started talking and came out of the house simultaneously.” In the old times, during the time of Congress leader Kamaraj and DMK founder Annadurai, there was such a healthy tradition that started afresh.
Chief Minister Palaniswami began giving the delegation time to meet under the leadership of opposition leader Stalin. It is common in other states that the Chief Minister met the opposition’s delegation but such pictures had not been seen in Tamil Nadu for a long time. When Karunanidhi’s health worsened, AIADMK ministers led by Panneerselvam went to his house.
Controversy over burial of Karunanidhi’s body on Marina Beach
However, attempts to mend the relationship came as a shock when the AIADMK government did not allow his body to be buried with the tomb of former chief ministers on Marina Beach, citing new environmental regulations after Karunanidhi’s death in August 2018. The DMK moved the Madras High Court and the government granted it after the green signal was given by the court.
Experts believe that Stalin lacks vengeance, as well as Palaniswami and Panneerselvam. Stalin attended a service event held in memory of Palaniswami’s mother in October last year, a few months before the election bugle sounded.
Stalin exits ‘Amma Canteen’ post tearers
On Tuesday, some DMK activists tore the banner of an ‘Amma canteen’ in Chennai. Taking immediate action on the incident, Stalin not only instructed his leaders to fix the banner but also expelled the two accused workers from the party. The Mayor of Chennai and newly elected DMK MLA M Subramaniam informed about this. Let us tell you that the ‘Amma Canteen’ scheme was started by Chief Minister Jayalalithaa in 2013 to feed the poor.
The future Chief Minister and Leader of Opposition’s cordial dialogue with each other suggests that the new generation of leaders are creating a healthy environment by forgetting the past of hatred filled with personal rivalries.
A new chapter of confrontation will begin?
However, the DMK has announced in its manifesto that a special court will be set up to investigate the corrupt ministers of the AIADMK government if the government is formed. Earlier, Stalin had made corruption allegations against the then Chief Minister Palaniswami and other ministers, including Panneerselvam, by making a complaint to Governor Banwarilal Purohit. Stalin also promised to expedite the investigation into Jayalalithaa’s death. In such a situation, what will be the attitude of the DMK about these announcements after the formation of the government, because these are issues that can start a new chapter of confrontation between the two parties.