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You lost an election, now don’t fail us as opposition

Dear EPS and OPS,

It has been my long-time dream to write a letter addressed to the two of you — together, I mean — but I am sorry I couldn’t do this on a happier occasion. The world is still battling Covid-19, and you have lost an election. What’s worse, you can’t stop fighting each other. It’s a week since the poll results, and you can’t decide who will be the leader of the opposition. Your squeaks and squabbles don’t surprise me, but remember this is not the time for a suicide. If anything, we the people deserve a good opposition which, in a democracy, is as important as the government.

As I’ve said many times in this column, power is the glue that has kept you together. Now that is gone, will you together accelerate your party’s march to oblivion? I am not a fan of your party, but the AIADMK should not cease to exist. It has a bigger role now than ever to play, as a constructive, creative and critical opposition. Your failure in rising to this role would pose a double danger: One, of the government turning autocratic; two, of the opposition space being occupied by more dangerous, divisive forces.

EPS, you did a wonderful job

as the captain keeping the party and the government vessel afloat in troubled waters for four years. But the strategies you adopted to achieve that no longer work because you are no longer at the helm. It’s a big difference, you see. While you were the chief minister, you could grin or growl to make your legislators and party functionaries fall in line. You could give them the licence to make merry, you could threaten them with a collective fear of loss. Today you don’t have the juicy carrot to dangle, and the stick doesn’t work with a bunch of losers.

OPS, this is not the time to pull the rug, something which you tried desperately, repeatedly, and failed miserably. You had more groundswell outside the party than inside during your 2017 ‘dharmayudham’, but the moment you took ‘dharmam’ out of your ‘yudham’, you became just another leader vying for the top post. It was wise on your part to settle for the lieutenant post and partake of the power pie as long as it lasted. The harsh reality is that you just don’t have the numbers to be No. 1. EPS clearly has a majority in the legislature party and he is sure to win if the post is put to vote.

You may patch up overnight, but that’s not enough. The cold war and shadow boxing will harm your party whose general council and other forums could witness ugly power games in the days to come. Let me repeat, I am not a supporter of your party or its non-existent ideologies, but the opposition withering away after a fairly decent electoral show will do more harm than good to democracy. The AIADMK has a contemporary reason to remain relevant till another force emerges to balance the yin and yang (those who promised that are struggling to keep themselves in one piece).

Infighting can harm any time, but the cream of power often spreads over the fissures that show again during a dry patch. It was the need for your mutual survival that saw you through those better days in power. Now the need for the party’s collective survival should keep your daggers away. Or else, remember there is always someone who answers to the name Sasikala.



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Disclaimer

Views expressed above are the author’s own.



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