Ahead of the assembly polls, the DMK had handed away five seats in its traditional stronghold Chennai to allies, as leaders scurried for safer seats on city outskirts or in rural Tamil Nadu. The party felt it was most vulnerable in urban areas to any backlash from voters upset with corruption scandals the DMK faces.
They needn’t have bothered. The voters of the state, in the end, left them nowhere to run, and nowhere to hide.
The sweep by J Jayalithaa’s ADMK-led alliance broke through the traditional bastions of the DMK and its allies, and busted the myth that rural Tamil Nadu voters were less worried by the concerns troubling their urban counterparts.
From the north-eastern tip of the state, across the Cauvery delta that runs through central Tamil Nadu to the Indian mainland’s southern-most constituency, Kanyakumari, the colours of the ADMK-led alliance paint the map of the state today, barring pockmarks that represent scattered victories for the DMK and its allies.
The DMK-led alliance had won or was leading in only five seats of northern Tamil Nadu, a traditional stronghold for the party and its ally, the PMK.
In the Jayalalithaa sweep, one of DMK’s star candidates, chief minister M Karunanidhi’s son and deputy chief minister MK Stalin, found himself locked in a bitter struggle in Kolathur in north Chennai. DMK was also trounced in Thousand Lights, Stalin’s traditional constituency, which he left for Kolathur this time.
Madurai, traditionally the stronghold of union chemicals minister MK Alagiri, Karunanidhi’s elder son, served up even worse results for the DMK. At the time of going to press, the party’s candidates were trailing in all 10 seats from the city, Tamil Nadu’s second largest after the capital.
The ADMK swept the west, its traditional stronghold, while also relegating the DMK-led alliance to isolated victories in central and southern Tamil Nadu.