A great victory, but not quite a sweep
Among the main party poopers for the AIADMK was the ambitious actor-turned-politician Vijayakant, whose DMDK party played the spoiler in several constituencies where the AIADMK was in a strong position, writes MR Venkatesh.india Updated: May 17, 2009 03:34 IST
In a state in thrall to movie stars, the emerging DMK-Congress victory has several dramatic sub-plots.
The predicted “return of Amma”, AIADMK leader J. Jayalalithaa has not occurred. The AIADMK has won only 12 of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry’s 40 Lok Sabha seats, against the 28 won by the DMK (in tandem with a Dalit party and a Muslim party) and Congress alliance.
Among the main party poopers for the AIADMK was the ambitious actor-turned-politician Vijayakant, whose DMDK party played the spoiler in several constituencies where the AIADMK was in a strong position. The Coimbatore-based ‘Kongunadu Munnetra Peravai’ recently floated by the OBC ‘Goundar’ community also cut into “Amma’s” traditional vote-bank in western Tamil Nadu.
The AIADMK however pulled off a dramatic victory in South Chennai, a DMK bastion.
The DMK also had other, piquant reasons to celebrate. Its friend-turned rival, the OBC Vanniyars-dominated PMK, which switched to the AIADMK-led front shortly before the polls, drew a blank in all the seven seats including Puducherry that it ran for. “More than our winning, we wanted to defeat the betrayer PMK,” a senior DMK functionary told HT.
The PMK’s comprehensive defeat came as sweet revenge, even as the DMK picked up most of the seats in northern Tamil Nadu, considered the PMK’s stronghold.
Jayalalithaa’s ally, MDMK leader, Vaiko, the vociferous champion of the LTTE and of a separate Tamil homeland in Sri Lanka, went crashing down at Virdhunagar constituency. He was last heard of demanding a recount of votes.
The people’s mandate was clearly for the DMK-led local alliance and its national ally, the Congress.
However, while the DMK has gained two more than the 16 MPs it had in the 14th Lok Sabha, its key ally, the Congress suffered some spectacular losses of its Tamil Nadu stalwarts.
The Union Minister for Panchayati Raj, Mani Shankar Aiyar was defeated by the AIADMK nominee, O.S. Maniyan. Union Minister of State for Textiles, E.V.K.S. Elangovan, lost in Erode by 47,343 votes to the MDMK’s A. Ganesha Murthy, a former POTA detainee jailed with Vaiko for eulogising
LTTE chief Prabhakaran.
Even Union Home Minister, Palaniappan Chidambaram, trailed for a long time before he finally surged ahead and won the Sivaganga Lok Sabha seat, beating his nearest AIADMK rival, R. S. Rajakannappan, by only 3,354 votes.
The DMK also did well in southern Tamil Nadu, considered an AIADMK stronghold. Its biggest win, expectedly, was by the party President M. Karunanidhi’s elder son, M. K. Azhagiri who won at Madurai by over 1.40 lakh votes.
“It is a victory for development,” said Karunanidhi’s son and the DMK’s youth wing leader, M.K. Stalin. Congress heavyweights losing ground, “is more due to local factors than a fallout of the Sri Lankan Tamils issue,” said senior Congress leader and former Union Minister, S. R. Balasubramoniyan.