Lok Sabha elections 2019: In Tamil Nadu, PMK hopes for NDA boost
The Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), founded by physician S Ramadoss, has a well-earned reputation as the wind-cock of national and Tamil Nadu politics. It was a part of two successive Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) governments in 1998 and 1999. In 2004, it switched over the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and was rewarded with the health ministry for Ramadoss’ son Anbumani Ramadoss, 50, also a medical doctor. Similarly, in assembly elections, PMK managed to parachute into winning alliances in 2001, with the All Indian Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), and with the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) in 2006. But in the past few years, the PMK hasn’t been on top of its game. Despite Anbumani’s Lok Sabha win in Dharmapuri in 2014 as an NDA ally, and in the face of a Jayalalithaa wave that won the AIADMK 37 of Tamil Nadu’s 39 seats, he couldn’t wangle a ministerial berth at the BJP-led NDA government at the centre. The alliance too was over soon.
In the 2016 assembly polls, Ramadoss decided to go it alone and positioned Anbumani as a young chief ministerial alternative to both Jayalalithaa and DMK’s MK Stalin. Considered a master practitioner of political calculus, Ramadoss’ new tack had twin objectives. One, to position Anbumani as progressive leader in tune with the aspirations of the young, and two, to demonstrate PMK’s standalone, statewide appeal to prospective suitors. Its nearly 6% vote share in 2016 has certainly helped achieve the latter, even if Anbumani himself could not manage a win from the Pennagaram assembly seat in Dharmapuri.