DMK - Prashant Kishor... What is the deal about?

While the top political parties in Tamil Nadu have been gearing up for 2021 state general elections as they have barely left with one year, the recent announcement of the state opposition party DMK had stimulated the quest on whether the party is accelerating towards the corporate politics. 

On Sunday, DMK President Stalin had officially announced that the party has signed a deal with Prashant Kishor's Indian Political Action Committee (IPAC) to strategize the political agenda for DMK in 2021 legislative elections to take down the ADMK party that would hit a decade of being elected to the power by next year. This is certainly one of the most crucial assignments for IPAC as for the first time, it is legging on the heated political ground of the state. IPAC is widely known across the nation as the important political advocacy group and it largely worked with BJP in 2014 elections during which Modi gained power at the Center. Currently, the IPAC has been working with the BJP's rivals including Mamata Banerjee and Arvind Kejriwal and with DMK.

However, our sources close to the developments say that the deal had spurred fierce debate inside the party as the critics questioned the need for corporate-level advocacy to the party which has a strong party and voter base across the state. Some of the cadres had stated that it's doubtful whether the deal would control the cadres or would it welcomed by the party members. According to Stalin, the configuration of the party has strongly been functioning under his son in law Sabareesan since 2016. K Sunil, a former colleague of Kishor was named as the political adviser for Stalin and he installed OMG, the party's strategy and tech team. It was this team that operated Stalin during the 2016 legislative elections when he toured the state through the 'Namakku Naame' campaign.

      Stalin during the 'Namakku Naame' campaign in 2016


The group's strategy had elevated Stalin's and party's growth in 2019 Parliamentary and Local body elections and recently, the party has decided to induct Prashant Kishor in the place of Sunil. Prashant Kishor leads the costliest advocacy group in the country that played a strong role in the election victories of Nitish Kumar in Bihar and Jagan Mohan Reddy in Andhra Pradesh but at the same time, his strategies didn't work out for Congress as the party had lost the elections in Uttar Pradesh. The critics have stated that Kishor would deal with the parties which already have a stronghold and high chance of winning the elections.

(L-R) Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy and Prashant Kishor share the stage after the party's victory in the state.


Some of the DMK cadres claimed that the main job of these corporate advocacy groups is to build the database from the ground and to finalize the strategies. It should be done by the local party members and cadres and they feared that this advocacy group could camp its dominance in the DMK party's polls that have been scheduled to take place on February 21st, 2020. Although it can be stated as the party's local body polls, DMK district secretaries would largely have their say on deciding and electing the party's union members.

Prashant Kishor with Bihar Chief Minister and JD(U) Chief Nitish Kumar - File photo


Senior party cadres embracing the members and the party's leadership embracing the senior cadres is DMK's style of politics and the party must take stern action against the cadres who proven to be violated the decision taken by the party's president and the DMK cadres pressed that the final decision in the party must be taken by the president, not by the advocacy groups. They further underlined that the party has slipped away from Karunanidhi's politics and the electoral policies aren't legal either. They asserted that the political advisers are becoming necessary to tackle the rival politics and its not acceptable that the party can win only through their advice instead the party should concentrate on increasing the vote banks, that where the secret lies.

Along with DMK cadres, ADMK has closely been watching how Stalin would balance the cadres and Prashant Kishor on succeeding in the 2021 elections.

Also read: Will Prashant Kishor's IPAC bring DMK back to power?