Suddenly the political stage in Tamil Nadu has changed. With AIADMK leader J Jayalalithaa’s death on December 5, 2016, and the creation of the post of DMK working president on January 4, 2017, VK Sasikala and MK Stalin have become the prime players in the Dravidian heartland. And this can be an opportunity for the state to change its political culture too.
For close to three decades, two giants – M Karunanidhi and J Jayalalithaa – had dominated the state’s political landscape. So bitter were they towards each other that they never saw eye to eye after the March 25, 1989 fracas in the assembly where Jayalalithaa accused DMK legislators of manhandling her. She left the House with dishevelled hair, promising to return only as the chief minister. She kept her promise — and unleashed vengeance.
What followed was politics of vendetta: In the late 1990s, the ruling DMK filed corruption cases by the dozen against Jayalalithaa; after returning to power she ordered the infamous midnight arrest of Karunanidhi on June 30, 2001. They alternated between the treasury benches and the opposition, but they were seldom seen in the assembly at the same time. Through statements they poured scorn at each other.
Within a month, Jayalalithaa’s........