In two general elections, 1999 and 2004, the alliances that ruled India came to power after winning Tamil Nadu.
As India stands at the electoral crossroads, Tamil Nadu’s 39 Lok Sabha seats could again decide who forms the next government in Delhi.
The state tends to swing towards the winner. In 1999, the DMK allied with the BJP and won 28 of 39 seats. In 2004, the DMK switched its loyalties to the Congress and won all 39.
In the final round of voting on Wednesday, nearly 10 crore voters vote for 86 seats, bringing the curtains down on the longest and biggest polling exercise in the world.
Along with Tamil Nadu, voting for 47 other seats takes place across six states and two union territories.
The stakes are again high in Tamil Nadu, but the political picture has changed.
This time, the AIADMK has dropped the BJP and allied with the Left, the PMK and the MDMK. The Congress and the DMK are together again.
With the AIADMK making military action against the banned Tamil tigers in Sri Lanka as its main poll plank, the mood of the voters is unpredictable.
Pro-LTTE websites and the AIADMK have accused the Congress of siding with the Sri Lankan government, but the issues that dominated public imagination were a perceived deterioration in law and order and intrigues in the extended family of DMK patriarch and chief minister M Karunanidhi.
While the BJP hopes to win over the AIDMK post-poll, Congress too is keeping in touch with Amma.
The hazy picture in Tamil Nadu mirrors the national political scene, where the search for allies seems to be getting tough. Tuesday saw hectic political activity in the Congress and BJP camps, with both the parties engaged in wooing new allies, anticipating a hung parliament — meaning no single party or formation gets the magic figure of 272 seats.
A day after slamming Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for sharing the stage with Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday reached out to Kumar, ostensibly to talk about central assistance for flood relief in the state.
The BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu was in Hyderabad. Although Venkaiah refused to share his plans in the city, party sources said he is understood to be wooing the TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu.
On D-Day, May 16, when the electronic voting machines give their verdict, the mood of the people will finally be revealed.