DMK maths vs Jaya chemistry
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DMK maths vs Jaya chemistry

Going by sheer numbers, the DMK front packed with allies should be the frontrunner by miles for the May 8 assembly election in Tamil Nadu.

india Updated: Mar 20, 2006 01:51 IST
GC Shekhar

Going by sheer numbers, the DMK front packed with allies should be the frontrunner by miles for the May 8 assembly election in Tamil Nadu.

For in 2001, it was with the same set of allies — Congress, PMK and the two communists — that the AIADMK won a comfortable majority for itself.

And yet, even the most optimistic leaders in the DMK front concede that their arithmetic advantage does not mean an automatic victory for the front similar to the 2004 Lok Sabha elections.

After the MDMK's exit, the DMK sought to play it safe by keeping each of its allies in good humour and allotting them a substantial number of seats. This whittled down its own quota to 129, leaving the door open for a possible coalition in case the DMK failed to cross the magical 118 mark in the 234-member House.

This apprehension was further underlined by a sample poll by Tamil weekly Kumudham, which gave the AIADMK 13 out of 15 seats in three northern districts of the state — a traditional stronghold of the DMK and the PMK.

A nervous DMK chief Karunanidhi debunked the poll as a handiwork of the state intelligence.

Why does the DMK's numerical strength suddenly appear insufficient to take on Jayalalithaa who has just two allies — the MDMK and the DPI, a Dalit party with a small pocket of influence? Most observers attribute this to an imponderable chemistry that has emerged between the Tamil voters and Jayalalithaa.

They recall how in 1980 MGR enjoyed something similar — though pitted against the DMK and the Congress (still powerful under Indira Gandhi), MGR won that election and the next one as well.

For starters, the AIADMK government, having rolled back the tough economic measures after its rout in the 2004 Lok Sabha polls, faces the coming elections with virtually no anti-incumbency mood against it. This was demonstrated in two by-election victories last May against the DMK front.

Subsequently, the way her government tackled the massive floods, especially the distribution of flood relief and compensation for crop loss, seems to have struck an emotive chord among the public.

Actor Vijaykanth, who launched his own political party and is going it alone, is bound to cut into the anti-AIADMK votes since he has been targeting the DMK and its allies. In case he decides to switch over to the AIADMK front, then it could be an equalcontest.

"I still feel that it would take a lot more for Jayalalithaa to overhaul the edge enjoyed by the DMK due to its electoral arithmetic. But if she wins, she will create history since after MGR no one has won back-to-back elections," said political analyst Cho Ramaswamy.

First Published: Mar 20, 2006 01:51 IST