Ritesh K Srivastava
In an unprecedented dismal show, M Karunanidhi-led DMK was completely routed in Tamil Nadu as its arch-rival AIADMK made a clean sweep by winning 37 out of 39 seats.
The spectacular performance by Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa`s party in the hustings also decimated a deserted Congress and shattered what was described as a "formidable" six-party alliance stitched by BJP to gain foothold in this southern state.
The outcome of the election was the worst ever for DMK after 1998 when it had won five seats when the party-led United Front ended up with a tally of nine facing crushing defeat at the hands of AIADMK-led NDA that scored 30 seats.
DMK bigwigs and 2G accused Dayanidhi Maran (Central Chennai) and A Raja (Nilgiris-SC) and TR Baalu (Thanjavur) conceded enough ground to their AIADMK rivals, virtually ruling out a comeback in the subsequent rounds of counting.
The results have come as a jolt to the four-decade old party, which faced internal rumblings leading to the expulsion of former Union minister and Karunanidhi`s elder son MK Alagiri, who had openly campaigned against the party nominees.
DMK was aiming to convert a perceived anti-incumbency into votes in the backdrop of power cuts and drinking water shortage but it was `Amma` all the way.
The AIADMK led by Chief Minister even made a dent in those regions perceived to be DMK turfs while PMK and BJP could win one seat each.
Congress, forced to face polls alone with no takers for an alliance, put up some semblance of fight only in Kanyakumari where the fortunes fluctuated between it and BJP before the saffron party shot into the lead.
PMK`s Anbumani Ramadoss eventually won in Dharmapuri, bringing cheers to BJP alliance partners.
However, BJP`s allies - DMDK, PMK, MDMK and KDMK - seemed to be swept away in the `Lady Wave,` as an AIADMK leader put it, although Jayalalithaa`s national ambitions seem to have been cut short by BJP`s good show across the country.
Union Territory of Puducherry saw a reversal as Union Minister of State V Narayanasamy lost by a good margin to his nearest ruling AINRC rival R Radhakrishnan after leading in the initial rounds.
Narayanasamy had taken a lead of about 9,000 votes initially but conceded ground later.
Putting up a brave face in the wake of total annihilation of his party, DMK chief M Karunanidhi vowed to continue to work to win people`s confidence as he greeted BJP and its Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi on its "big win".
"I extend my greetings and that of DMK to BJP and Narendra Modi, who is going to take over as the Prime Minister, for the big win across India," he said in a statement.
The 89-year-old patriarch said he would take the loss in his stride, in line with party founder CN Annadurai`s principles of "not going berserk during win or getting bogged down due to loss."
"DMK accepts people`s verdict with a bowed head. We have faced similar losses and bigger triumphs than other parties," he said, adding the party will strive to work towards winning the confidence of people.