Few politicians have the clear-sightedness that the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader, J. Jayalalithaa, has shown time and again. When it comes to the AIADMK’s share of the political pie in Tamil Nadu, Ms Jayalalithaa is unapologetically tight-fisted. She did not dither from parting ways with the Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam once it had served its purpose in helping the AIADMK win the 2011 assembly polls. In the local polls that followed, she did not let the party’s long-standing alliance with the Left parties since 2009 come in the way of going it alone, a sure-shot way of permeating the AIADMK’s monopolistic hold on power in the state. When it comes to politics on the national stage, she appears to be much more magnanimous. She pulled out a party candidate for the Rajya Sabha elections last year in favour of a Left candidate. And now, despite egging on her partymen to wrest all 40 Lok Sabha seats in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, she has deigned to ally with the Communist Party of India and the Communist Party of India (Marxist). That would mean her party cannot contest at least four seats. Political alliances come at a price, but if it leverages the AIADMK’s position on the national scale and furthers her candidature for the prime minister’s chair, Ms Jayalalithaa is willing to pay it. Left support in Tamil Nadu, where the communist parties find an alliance with any of the two big Dravida Kazhagam parties indispensable to their political survival, may not make a difference to the vote-garnering capacity of the AIADMK, but it is a bonus for a party that has set its sights on the prime slot at the Centre. Given India’s anti-incumbency mood, the “secular and democratic alternative” of the AIADMK and the Left has a good chance of attracting the support of parties that do not want to see the Bharatiya Janata Party in power. Even among the innumerable contenders for the prime ministerial chair, Ms Jayalalithaa might emerge stronger with the backing of the Left.
In Tamil Nadu too, Ms Jayalalithaa is at a clear advantage. As on the national plane, her rivals in the state are too divided to pose a challenge to the AIADMK. The DMK, riven by family feud, is still struggling for an alliance with the DMDK, the Congress is a pariah now, the BJP has managed to ally only with the smaller parties and the DMDK seems to have overplayed its hand by perpetually postponing its decision on an alliance. The day belongs to the AIADMK chief.