The July 18 Presidential election could be viewed as a significant political opportunity for the DMK or rather its president MK Stalin. As of now, the DMK appears to be caught between its ‘loyal’ ally, the Congress and the newfound friend Trinamool Congress in the race for the Presidential election. Stalin had deputed his party treasurer TR Baalu for Wednesday’s meeting called for by TMC chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Baalu has the unenviable job of representing DMK to create consensus in finalising the Opposition’s Presidential candidate as well as prevent a demonstration of division in the Opposition ranks, all the while managing to keep its good friend from Bengal in good humour.
Presumably, it was the same reason the Congress also deputed a couple of its envoys for Mamata’s meeting. That said, the complicated nature of the Opposition could come as a blessing in disguise for Stalin and Co. Given its limited aspirations, the DMK could once again play the role of the glue holding the non-BJP Opposition intact – just like his father M Karunanidhi did over a decade ago, when he had successfully proposed Pratibha Patil for the President during the UPA-I as a member of a ruling coalition.
Though the wheels of politics have turned a full cycle and the electoral arithmetic has changed in toto in India since then, DMK, as the third largest party in the Lok Sabha with 24 MPs and a 10-MP strong party in the Rajya Sabha, cannot be blamed if it chooses to capitalise on the opportunity to demonstrate its leverage as a crucial player in a national political event like the Presidential race. Even a layman’s understanding of the relevance of TMC and AICC in Tamil Nadu would suggest that the Congress would be the obvious choice of Anna Arivalayam, should it find itself in a cliffhanger between Sonia and Mamata. However, the DMK is in no haste to reveal all its cards now.
The party, which issued a rallying call for an All India Social Justice Federation to consolidate the secular and social justice parties, has conveyed enough through its leaders that demonstrating a united Opposition is of much higher priority than choosing to side with friends. Needless to say, there is a catch in the whole episode. The entire plan of the Opposition could come a cropper, if Naveen Patnaik’s BJD and Jagan Reddy’s YSRCP tilt in favour of the ruling alliance, which would give enough numerical advantage to the BJP in the race to capture the Raisina Hills.
Hypothetically, should Stalin consider backing an apolitical candidate fielded by the BJP on social justice grounds, for other considerations, which is not even a remote possibility at this juncture, it could only prove to be an entirely new and tricky political manoeuvre for him in the current scheme of things.