"The DMK-Congress divorce will majorly benefit the AIADMK. The next beneficiary depends on the alliances," political analyst Gnani told IANS.
A Congress leader who spoke on condition of anonymity agreed, saying: "The DMK decision will benefit the AIADMK. But the DMK will not benefit."
Political analysts also say that the Congress-DMK split and multi-cornered contests will also rub off on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) if the latter sews up an appealing coalition.
At the party's general council meeting Sunday, DMK president and former chief minister M. Karunanidhi declared that his party would not align with the Congress to fight the Lok Sabha election.
With 18 members in the Lok Sabha, the DMK was a major constituent in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) governments from 2004 till it quit this year over India's handling of the Sri Lankan Tamil issue.
According to Karunanidhi, the DMK would continue to have the Dalit party VCK and the Indian Union Muslim League as allies. Other smaller groups like the MMK and PT might also come under the DMK fold.
But nothing will change the basic fact that the AIADMK will gain the most from the DMK-Congress break-up, analysts say.
Chief Minister and AIADMK general secretary J. Jayalalithaa has been urging her activists to ensure that the party wins all 39 Lok Sabha seats that Tamil Nadu has and the lone seat from neighbouring Puducherry.
Currently, the party holds nine Lok Sabha seats.
Jayalalithaa's confidence stems from the fact that the AIADMK came back to power in the state with a thumping win in 2011 in the wake of a strong anti-DMK wave.
The AIADMK has also won all four by-elections in the state after 2011 as well as the local body polls.
The AIADMK has gone aggressive, demanding that India take back from Sri Lanka the Katchatheevu islet and take firm action to end attacks on Indian fishermen by the Sri Lanka Navy.
Her government has also set up hugely popular budget canteens in the state -- and unveiled other welfare measures.
But power shortages are a cause for concern in Tamil Nadu. For that, the chief minister blames the central government.
Analysts say that while the AIADMK's vote base is expected to remain intact or even rise, the opposition votes are set to split.
The AIADMK has 151 members in the 235-seat assembly followed by the DMDK (28 seats), DMK (23), CPI-M (10), CPI (8) and Congress (5). The remaining 10 seats are shared by the PMK, MMK and others.
"The 2014 general elections will be interesting. The last election was closely contested as the winning margins were not big," Ramu Manivannan, a political science professor in the University of Madras, told IANS.
The various likely fronts that would be fighting it out in Tamil Nadu would be led by the AIADMK, DMK, BJP and the Congress.
"For the BJP, the (Narendra) Modi factor is there. Probably, it is the right time for the party to make a mark in the state," Manivannan said.
There are differing views on the BJP.
Some say the party should go with DMDK leader A. Vijayakant, a former actor. It could also rope in the Vanniar caste party PMK and the Vaiko-led MDMK as allies.
Many in the Tamil Nadu BJP feel that a BJP-DMDK-PMK-MDMK combine would offer a viable alternative to the AIADMK.
"We are in favour of such a tie-up," BJP leader H. Raja told IANS. In 1999, the BJP aligned with the DMK and won five Lok Saba seats.
Some feel the BJP should go with the DMK so as to leverage the latter's committed voter and cadre base.
The DMDK house is not in order. Seven of its legislators are acting in concert with the AIADMK in the assembly. They voted for AIADMK candidates in the Rajya Sabha elections.
But some BJP leaders say it will be the DMK which will be a liability, given the corruption tag attached to it.
The BJP surmises that the two Communist parties may go with the AIADMK, while the DMK would get the support of VCK and Muslim parties. The PMK and MDMK may find it difficult to align with the DMK.
The Congress is worried -- but puts up a brave face.
"With or without alliance partners we will fight the Lok Sabha polls," a Congress leader told IANS.
He ruled out the possibility of a split in the party with a major group striking on its own in next year's election. The party won eight Lok Sabha seats in 2009 from Tamil Nadu -- with DMK as its ally.
(19-12-2013- Venkatachari Jagannathan can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
--IANS (Posted on 19-12-2013)