People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 11

March 14, 2004


Battlelines Are Drawn

N Gunasekaran


THE secular parties in Tamil Nadu came together and finalised the task of seat-sharing in an amicable manner and thereby forged a formidable combination to thwart the communal, corrupt and anti-people front of the AIADMK and BJP combination.

Earlier, the CPI(M) had welcomed the decision of the DMK, PMK and MDMK to come out of the NDA, saying it would strengthen the secular forces in Tamil Nadu. These parties are strongly critical of the BJP’s continuous attempts to implement the communal agenda violating the common understanding of NDA partners – not to take up the controversial issues like Ayodhya, Article 370, common civil code etc.

After this development, the BJP-AIADMK alliance could not come to an agreement despite many rounds of talks since Jayalalitha put up many conditions. One is that she would not allot the Pudukkottai constituency to Thirunavukkarasu, presently a central minister who had deserted the AIADMK, floated a party of his own, and then merged it in BJP. The BJP has reluctantly accepted six seats without Pudukkottai.


Though Jayalalitha adopted a tough posture vis a vis the BJP in regard to seat sharing, she has repeatedly expressed her endorsement and sympathy for the ideology of Hindutva. This sympathy is evident from the fact that although she announced many sops to peasants and withdrawn the dismissal orders of 999 government employees and teachers, she did not withdraw the law banning religious conversions. The state BJP is hopeful of destroying the rationalist and socialist legacy of Periyar’s Dravidian movement, utilising the services of AIADMK.

In contrast, the secular democratic parties have declared their commitment to form a secular government at the centre. The CPI(M) decided to support the combination of secular parties viz. DMK, PMK, MDMK, CPI, and Congress since this combination can defeat the forces of communalism in the state. The CPI(M) had an understanding with the DMK, the leading party in the combination, and has come to a negotiated settlement on the sharing of seats. As per this arrangement, the CPI(M) would contest two seats – Madurai (its sitting seat) and Nagercoil. The Party has announced its candidates, Mohan for Madurai and Bellarmin for Nagercoil.


Total seats:              39

Pondicherry:             1

DMK:                      15

CPI(M):                     2

CPI:                          2

MDMK:                   4

PMK:                       6

Congress:               10

Muslim league:     1


The massive conference of the DMK at Virudhanagar on February 21-22 gave an opportunity for the secular forces to send a clear message to the people of the state about their unity in defence of secularism. The conference dias was shared by leaders of all secular parties who pledged their unity. The conference passed a resolution asserting that they would strive to form a secular government at the centre. Resolutions were also passed demanding repeal of POTA and condemning the anti-people policies of the Jayalalitha government.

Another major development in the run up to the elections was the decision of the MDMK leader Vaiko to seek bail come out of jail for participating in the election campaign. His first public meeting at Chennai drew more than 10,000 strong audience. His speech criticising the NDA was well received by the crowd. He admitted that because he did not listen to the wiser counsel from leaders like Somnath Chatterjee of the CPI(M), he suffered. He had taken a vow to defeat the NDA which enacted the POTA and Jayalalitha government which vindictively used it against him. The secular parties have also decided to conduct a vigorous exposure campaign against the three year anti-people rule of the Jayalalitha government, which followed the neo-liberal policies being pursued by the Vajpayee government.

In another development, a new front was formed under the leadership of Thirumavalavan of the Dalit Panthers of India (DPI) and Dr Krishnasamy of Pudhiya Thamizhagam (PT). The front included certain other caste outfits. The broad opinion is that this front will have no impact on the committed voters in Tamil Nadu. Initially they met Karunanidhi and pledged support to the secular combination. But the DMK leader conveyed his inability to allot any seats to these parties in view of the pressure on seats due to a number of parties aligning with the DMK. Immediately, they withdrew their support, went to Delhi, met Sharad Yadav and announced a separate front. Tamil Nadu voters are mature enough to to see through the tricks of Sharad Yadav and Fernandes in this connection. These parties have deserted their declared commitment to the cause of dalits by aligning with forces who are keen on bringing back to power the BJP-led government at the centre. They have betrayed the cause of the oppressed masses by acting as a pawn in the hands of anti-dalit Hindutva forces who are also the advocates of the ideology of Manu.