Striking a political balance – The Hindu


Previous political clashes between the DMK and the BJP have left little space for reconciliation

Previous political clashes between the DMK and the BJP have left little space for reconciliation

The political noises that the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) made against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) before and immediately after the 2021 Tamil Nadu Assembly elections had sent a clear message that the two parties would be unlikely to see eye to eye on a wide range of issues.”

The shrinking of space for the Opposition and the reduction in the number of Opposition-ruled States provided the DMK an opportunity to be a rallying point for the Opposition in the country. Of course, DMK president and Chief Minister MK Stalin, in the beginning, made some efforts to unite them in the interest of the socially oppressed. He wrote to 37 leaders of various state and national parties, including All India Congress Committee (AICC) president Sonia Gandhi and Chief Ministers requesting them to nominate representatives to establish an All India Federation for Social Justice.

He also wrote to Chief Ministers of 11 non-BJP ruled States and the Center to join his fight against the mandate of admitting students to medical colleges including those run by the State governments on the basis of scores obtained in the National Eligibility Entrance Test (NEET) ). But nothing was heard on these two subjects afterwards.

Against this backdrop, a question is being raised as to whether the DMK is softening its antagonistic stand towards Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP. A section of political analysts infers that this is the case, going by the speeches made by Mr. Stalin at recent functions attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the State. In the last four months, Mr. Modi has visited Tamil Nadu twice. On the first occasion, the political distance between the two parties seemingly remained unchanged.

However, when Mr. Modi arrived last week to inaugurate the 44th FIDE Chess Olympiad and participated in the convocation of the Anna University, the bonhomie between him and Mr. Stalin was striking. mr. Stalin said, “We all know that you are very fond of chess. During your tenure as the Chief Minister of Gujarat, you conducted a Grand Chess Festival with over 20,000 players. It is very apt that such a supporter of the chess game has come today to inaugurate… Your presence has enhanced the magnitude of this function…”

Prior to the Olympiad, the police arrested a member of a DMK fraternal outfit for defacing posters of Mr. Modi, while no action was taken against the BJP functionaries who openly mocked the Chief Minister and pasted Mr. Modi’s photos on Chess Olympiad billboards. The DMK’s argument is that they were official functions and no political hostilities could be displayed.

Is the party wavering as its critics suggest it is? A Left party leader countered that the critics failed to see what Mr. Stalin said two days after the Chess Olympiad inauguration. At a conclave organized by a Kerala-based media organization, Mr. Stalin came down heavily on the BJP government and accused the party of running a parallel government in States through Governors. He reiterated his commitment to the rights of States and his firm resolve to work with the Left parties.

Supporters of Mr. Stalin argues that there has never been a let up in his stand in favor of the rights of States and autonomy. Nevertheless, Mr. Stalin is under practical compulsion to strike a balance between the DMK, the political party, and the DMK, the party that rules the State. The current political situation in the country and the absence of viable opposition to the BJP will not allow the DMK to burn the bridge to the dispensation at the Centre. But it is very unlikely to gravitate towards the BJP for political gains and power.

kolappan.b@thehindu.co.in



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