The Kongunadu Munnetra Peravai (KMP), a forum of dominant Kongu Vellala Gounder caste, has emerged as a political force in the Western region of Tamil Nadu cutting into the vote share of both the national and regional parties in the recent Lok Sabha elections.
Going into the elections just three-months after its formation, the KMP, made major inroads into the bastions of both AIADMK and DMK, indicating that it cannot be ignored in the 2011 Assembly elections.
Fielding candidates in 12 constituencies, the fledgeling party, which made "negligence" of the Western districts its main poll plank, secured six lakh votes, with two of its candidates obtaining over one lakh votes, though it did not win a seat.
During the electioneering, the party had said it would demand a separate "Kongunadu" (state) comprising the districts of Coimbatore, Tirupur, Erode, Salem and Namakkal if its grievances were not addressed.
In Coimbatore Lok Sabha constituency, the party infact finished second to the winning CPI(M) candidate P R Natarajan, pushing Congress' veteran and former state Agriculture Minister R Prabhu to third place.
E R Eswaran, General Secretary of the party said "we are happy with our showing in the polls going it alone, since other political parties have underestimated our strength. They just ignored us as another caste-based party," he said.