The difference of just a little over 1 per cent is the thin line that divided the victor from the vanquished in Tamil Nadu, as the DMK had found out to its agony.
A day after the assembly election results that propelled the ruling AIADMK to another stint in power, the DMK begun the customary introspection into what went wrong.
But despite being confined to the opposition benches for another five years, all is not lost for the opposition party.
For the record, the DMK and its allies bagged 98 seats, an improvement of 67 from 2011. Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK managed 134, which is 15 less than her tally in the last assembly polls.
Jayalalithaa can rejoice her victory but cannot relax much as it is a much stronger opposition that she will face in the assembly and outside.
For her victory she has to thank the “also rans” –Captain Vijayakanth’s team, the Pattali Makkal Katchi and even the BJP, for taking away votes that may otherwise had gone to the DMK. There were at least a dozen constituencies where the victory margin was less than 1,000 votes.
“We will be a strong and vigilant opposition party,” said DMK treasurer and heir apparent MK Stalin. He masked his disappointment as he was the one who singlehandedly brought the DMK to this position through a very aggressive mass contact programme – nammakku naame -- running into some six months during which he toured every constituency.
Party patriarch Karunanidhi said in a statement that the difference between the AIADMK and the DMK is just 1.1% The DMK-led front secured 1,71,75,374 votes (39.7 percent of the votes polled) as against AIADMK that got 1,76,17,060 votes (40.8 percent)
“The AIADMK has only scraped through, and had it gone completely alone without the minor allies, it could have ceded ground to the DMK, so close the fight was. Which is why many pollsters and exit polls went wrong,” said Prof Ramu Manivannan of Madras University.
A pollster who did not want to be named said the DMK was really ahead in January February, when Stalin’s nammakku namme was on. “Perhaps the DMK did a mistake by not projecting Stalin as the face of its campaign and chief ministerial candidate,” he said requesting anonymity.