The eleventh largest state (area-wise) and seventh most populous state in India, Tamil Nadu witnessed more than average polling on April 24, 2014, in the sixth phase of Lok Sabha elections.
Maintaining a brisk pace from the start, the polling percentage crossed the 73 percent mark in the single-phase Lok Sabha elections to 39 constituencies in this state out of which seven were reserved for the Scheduled Caste.
Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, DMK President M Karunanidhi, DMDK founder Vijayakant, MDMK leader Vaiko, D Raja and D Pandian of CPI, actors Rajnikanth, Kamal Haasan, Ajith Kumar, Vijay and Jiiva were among the prominent personalities who cast their votes.
In a bid for ballots, the destiny of 845 candidates including 2G scam-accused Dayanidhi Maran and A Raja of DMK, Congress nominees Karti P Chidambaram and Mani Shankar Aiyar, AIADMK's sitting MP M Thambidurai, besides those of BJP, DMDK and PMK will be decided by the voters.
Though the poll scene presents a multi-cornered battle, the actual contest is between ruling AIADMK and DMK besides the BJP-led six-party alliance, which is trying to throw up challenge to the two Dravidian outfits.
If exit polls results are to be believed Jayalalitha-led All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) is all set to clean sweep Tamil Nadu in the Parliamentary elections due to its good track record in governance, compared to 2009 election results, the poll arithmetic has changed considerably.
According to the poll surveys the seat sharing projections are as follow:
AIADMK might get 25 -28 seats, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) 7-11 seats whereas BJP being relegated to number three position with 4-6 seats. The Congress is facing a threat of being obliterated from the state.
In 2009, Tamil Nadu had recorded a same polling percentage, with DMK bagging 18 seats in coalition with the Congress, which had bagged 8 seats. The Jayalalitha-led AIADMK could not do well and could get only 9 seats. It had entered into an alliance with the CPI and CPI (M) then.
Moving on national level, although exit polls are predicting that Narendra Modi-led NDA is heading for majority. The AIADMK has send warm signals to Narendra Modi and has shown willingness to support the NDA government to come to power.
Prior to the elections, The Bharatiya Janata Party had announced the formation of a seven-party rainbow alliance for the Lok Sabha polls, in its first-ever such electoral venture in the state where the turf has been largely dominated by DMK and AIADMK.
Out of the 39 seats, actor-politician Vijayakant's DMDK is fighting for 14 seats while PMK and BJP has fielded candidates in eight constituencies each. Part president Rajnath Singh managed to convince PMK to give up the claim on Salem seat and accommodate the request by DMDK.
The other national party Congress, which used to ride piggy back on DMK or AIADMK, has been left to face the polls on its own this time. This could well mean a complete rout for Congress in the state.
DMK’s relationship with the Congress had earlier hit a roadblock with the former leaving the UPA government after Kanimozhi, the daughter of the DMK supremo Karunanidhi, was sent to jail in the 2G scam. The party’s another leader A Raja is also the prime accused in the same scam for which he had to also spend a considerable time behind the bars. The corruption charges have left an adverse effect on the image of the party also which is one of the causes for the party’s bad performance in the state.
The DMK chief recently asked the Congress to accept its mistakes only to be rebuffed by the Congress. However, the opening may develop into a situation where both parties come together after the polls.
DMK’s own house is also in disarray. The big fight in the DMK’s first family has turned into no-holds barred war between the brothers. Karunanidhi’s decision to prefer Stalin over MK Alagiri on the question of succession, has seriously jeopardised the prospects of the party. Alagiri is miffed with his father and brother after he was suspended from the party, and may very soon go solo and form his own party.
Alagiri had gone on to state that the party is run by evil forces, if DMK did not change its candidates, it is sure to face a complete rout. His recent praise for BJP’s PM candidate Narendra Modi has also sparked speculations that he might reach out for the party.
Political analysts have already predicting the doom of DMK this election and that the feud between the brothers is going to benefit the AIADMK and Jayalalitha.
Jayalalitha rode back to power in 2011 Assembly elections helped with the scam taints on the DMK. AIADMK hopes that the issue will help it this time as well.
Jayalalitha has launched ‘Amma Canteens’ in Tamil Nadu to sell food items at affordable price. She has also launched a scheme to provide quality and affordable drinking water to the people of the state. In Chennai and its suburbs, Jayalalitha has launched fair price vegetable shops.
Amma medical shops is her another initiative where medicines are made available at subsidized rates.
She has distanced from the anti-Hindi and anti-Brahmin stand, of the DMK. She has depoliticized education policy and is not insisting on the Tamil medium alone to be followed in the state. She is also hesitant towards the reservation policy and supports the interest of the farmers and fishermen in the state. It's because of all this; Jayalalitha is a highly popular leader in Tamil Nadu.
AIADMK has also forged an alliance with the Left in this election in the hope that the Third Front might make an entry this time. Jayalalitha has also made her prime ministerial ambitions known.
But even if the Third Front does not materialise, Jayalalithaa knows that if she can pull-off around 25 seats, she will yield good power in Delhi.
First Published: Sunday, March 30, 2014, 02:40