Chennai: The DMK led by M K Stalin was voted to power in Tamil Nadu on Sunday after a gap of 10 years. At the same time, the AIADMK under outgoing Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami sprung a surprise by putting up a creditable fight contrary to projections of a poor show in multiple opinion and exit polls.
While the DMK-led Secular Progressive Alliance either won or established leads in over 150 seats in the 234 member House; the AIADMK-led National Democratic Alliance managed to bag or lead in nearly 80 seats. With many rounds of counting pending in some constituencies, the final figure may vary.
In neighbouring Puducherry, the BJP, which had pulled down the Congress Government days before the Assembly elections, is set to share power with the All India NR Congress thanks to the performance of Congress defectors who joined it just before polls.
Tamil Nadu, in fact, saw a see-saw battle in many constituencies with fortunes of rival candidates changing at the end of each round of counting. Prominent candidates to establish unassailable leads over their nearest rivals included Edappadi K Palaniswami, M K Stalin, his son Udhayanidhi Stalin, Ministers Sengottaiyan, S P Velumani, Thangamani and Saroja. Prominent among those who were trailing were Ministers D Jayakumar, Ma Foi K Pandiarajan, M C Sampath, Benjamin and C Ve Shanmugam, other than Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam leader TTV Dhinakaran, DMDK treasurer Premalatha Vijayakant, Naam Tamilar Katchi leader Seeman and actress Khushboo Sundar of the BJP.
At the time of filing this report, actor Kamal Haasan, who made his electoral debut in Coimbatore South, was caught in a see-saw battle with BJP Mahila Morcha leader Vanathi Srinivasan.
Though in many seats the lead margins were thin, by evening it was clear that the opposition alliance was comfortably placed with the DMK itself on its own set to cross the half-way mark in the 234-member House, though with a slender margin.
The Congress, which was given only 25 seats by the DMK citing its past poor strike rate, surprised pollsters by establishing leads in 16 seats. The CPI and CPI (M) both won in two of the six seats each allotted to them. The MDMK led by Vaiko, which contested in six constituencies on the DMK’s ‘rising sun’ symbol, was ahead in four seats. The Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi too fared well in four seats while other allies were ahead in four constituencies.
As for the AIADMK, its candidates were leading in 68 seats, while its ally PMK managed leads in five seats of the 23 allotted to it. The BJP, piggy riding on the AIADMK, managed leads in four constituencies of the 20 seats allotted to it, though the figure might go down. One of its star candidates Annamalai, a young former IPS officer from Karnataka, was trailing in Aravakurichi.
“The available results clearly prove that Tamil Nadu’s voters continue to favour a bipolar contest. Despite five fronts in the fray, the final battle was between the DMK and the AIADMK led alliances, showing that these parties continue to be dominant and relevant despite the deaths of towering leaders such as M Karunanidhi and J Jayalalithaa,” said political analyst Mani.
“Also while Stalin has emerged as a leader in his own right, he has not been able to better the AIADMK’s performance in 2016. With just a one per cent difference in vote share between them, the AIADMK had won in 136 seats last time, whereas the DMK had won 89. Now with Jayalalithaa gone, and the DMK forming a formidable alliance, it has managed to get only 124 seats (number subject to change) on its own,” he pointed out.
Analysts said it is clear that Palaniswami has established himself as a popular leader by shouldering the entire campaign responsibility and still managing to put up a decent performance. Now Tamil Nadu is likely to be dominated by the two Dravidian parties for some more years.