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Now, DMK exploring campaigning pact with Prashant Kishor’s I-PAC

CHENNAI: Dravidian party DMK has begun engaging with Prashant Kishor’s political advocacy, IPAC, for a possible campaign partnership amid a churning run-up to the first full-fledged Assembly poll with celluloid contenders Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth foraying into an arena without iconic leaders J Jayalalithaa and M Karunanidhi.

“I am given to understand that talks have been going on for about a week,” said a person aware of the DMK’s strategy. A DMK lawmaker, on conditions of anonymity, said the party has followed a robust, ‘time-tested’ practice of running key decisions by a core committee populated by senior leaders, so any decision on roping in a strategist will be put through the test. A mail sent to I-PAC remains unanswered.

Kishor’s consultants had worked with Kamal Haasan’s Makkal Needhi Maiam for about six months till August but the party has decided not to continue the partnership, a senior member of Haasan’s party told
ET.

The DMK-led alliance had won 39 of the 40 parliamentary seats in the May 2019 elections, but failed to wrest power from Edappadi Palaniswami in the simultaneously held bypolls, extending the latter’s government till 2021. While Kishor’s track record boasts trophies from Narendra Modi’s prime ministerial campaign to the most recent win of YS Jaganmohan Reddy against N Chandrababu Naidu in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu’s political arena has lent little space to strategists, so far.

Till recently, Karunanidhi and Jayalalithaa carved out their own strategies ahead of elections, pushing freebies such as television sets and free laptops for schoolchildren.

Often, their moves have been intuitive and decided purely upon their understanding of the public mindset, say political observers of Dravidian politics. Just ahead of the 2016 Assembly elections, Karunanidhi announced total prohibition of liquor which forced Jayalalithaa to announce a phase-out of liquor sales that is still being carried out by chief minister Palaniswami.

Political analysts say strategists can provide a ringside view as most politicians have grown to a size that has cut them off from the common folk.

N Sathiya Moorthy, Chennai head of public policy think tank ORF, said: “At a time when the depth and width of second-line leadership inputs are lacking, and the EC too has brought down campaign period to 21 days or so with restricted hours, leaders and parties require constant inputs and assessments.”

Source: Economic Times