For all the hype around the so-called third front in Tamil Nadu, Elections 2016 could very well turn out to be yet another electoral joust between the usual suspects – the ruling AIADMK and arch rival DMK.
Voting for 232 seats in the state began briskly on Monday, with around 23% people exercising their franchise till 11 am. Though the results will be out only on May 19, there is a general perception that the state will stick to its bipolar politics – the AIADMK and DMK have alternately held power for most part of the time since independence.
The opposition DMK – it’s their turn to rule if all goes by history – is sure of victory.
“Apart from RK Nagar, the DMK will win every constituency,” said party treasurer MK
Stalin, shortly after voting began on Monday. RK Nagar is the constituency of incumbent chief minister J Jayalalithaa’s, challenged by 44 candidates.
The outcome of these elections will be as much a reflection of the former deputy chief minister’s electoral strategy as it will of his father, M Karunanidhi, the grand old man of TN politics. The nonagenarian is seeking to be named chief minister for the fifth time.
Stalin has been at the forefront of DMK’s campaign this time around, owing to the poor health and advanced age of his father, who is 93.
The heir apparent to Tamil Nadu’s oldest Dravidian party, Stalin has spearheaded all of the party’s major rallies, and has been an active participant on social media, eschewing the traditional attire of chuttai-veshti (shirt and dhoti) for a more relaxed professional look, ostensibly to appeal to younger voters.
The Election Commission has estimated that there are between 10-15 million first time voters in Tamil Nadu.
Meanwhile, AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa brushed aside questions on the outcome after casting her vote at Stella Maris college in Chennai, saying: “We will know what the people have decided after 2 days.”
This year’s elections may prove to be the most significant for the state. For the DMK, it is a chance to avenge the humiliating losses it endured in the last general elections in 2014.
For the AIADMK, it is a chance to have Jayalalithaa as the CM for a record 6th time.
And for the third front, led by the maverick actor-turned-politician Vijayakanth, it is the best chance to end a nearly 27-year-old reign of successive DMK and AIADMK governments.
But it is unlikely – not impossible -- that the people of the state will give Vijayakanth the chance to celebrate the biggest blockbuster hit of his career.