If the exit polls for the 39 Lok Sabha constituencies for Tamil Nadu are any indication, then Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) president MK Stalin could play kingmaker at the Centre.
However, for the bypolls in the 22 Assembly seats held recently in the state, the deciding factor could be Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK) chief TTV Dhinakaran.
While the exit polls have nationally shown a trend towards the BJP and its allies, in Tamil Nadu the Lok Sabha exit polls predict a win for Stalin, who may bag 26 to 34 seats.
With this majority, the DMK may turn out to be a party which could help form a coalition government at the Centre.
But given the stand Stalin has taken so far, expectations are that DMK will not go with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA). This could also be because Stalin’s arch rival, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), which is being led by chief minister K Palaniswami, is supporting the NDA.
This may prompt the DMK to join the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and the former may put forward some demands to the government, if a UPA government is formed, say experts.
However, the recent meeting between Telengana chief minister and Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) founder K Chandrashekhar Rao and Stalin has triggered rumours that a third front may form or some parties in South India could try to step up their bargaining power.
However, Stalin had ruled out the possibility of a third front after the meeting. He was one of the first regional political leaders who suggested Congress president Rahul Gandhi be made the Prime Minister, in a bid to become the kingmaker at the Centre.
Meanwhile, the bypolls in 22 Assembly constituencies in Tamil Nadu are also crucial for both the ruling AIADMK as well as the DMK as it could make or break a government.
According to an exit poll conducted by India Today-Axis My India on the by-elections, AIADMK may win only three seats while the DMK may bag 14.
At present, the ruling AIADMK has 113 members (excluding the Speaker) and its rival DMK-led alliance has 97 MLAs, including eight from the Congress and one from the Indian Union Muslim League.
AMMK has one seat, that of Dhinakaran.
It is felt that many of the AIADMK votes may go to Dhinakaran in these bypolls. In case this happens, he may play a crucial role in deciding if the current state government will be able to stay on or not.