Vote split behind AIADMK-BJP alliance loss in Tamil Nadu
Minorities rallying behind Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam-Congress alliance and votes split in certain seats by the Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK), a faction of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, ensured the rout of the AIADMK-Bharatiya Janata Party alliance in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in Tamil Nadu, analysis reveals.
The DMK, led by former party chief Karunanidhi’s son, Stalin, swept the elections, winning 37 of the 38 Lok Sabha seats that polled last month.The results indicate that AIADMK’s alliance with the saffron party cost it the votes of Christian and Muslim minorities and the DMK-led alliance benefited from this, besides anti-incumbency. In at least seven seats, including Chennai North, Chennai Central, Ramanathapuram,Thoothukkudi, and Kanniyakumari, minorities form a significant chunk of the electorate.
The average margin between AIADMK and DMK alliances in these seven seats was close to 300,000 votes. In the rest of the 31 seats, the margin was, on average, 192,000 votes.
Further, with the AMMK poaching traditional AIADMK votes in certain pockets, the AIADMK-BJP alliance which also comprised the Other Backward Class-Vanniyar dominant Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK) of Vijayakanth and Dalit party, Puthiya Thamizagam, didn’t stand a chance.
Elections were held for 38 of the 39 Lok Sabha seats (polling was cancelled in Vellore on the EC’s orders on account of cash being used to influence votes), and the AIADMK won only Theni where Raveendranath Kumar, the son of deputy CM O Panneerselvam trounced Congress veteran EVKS Elangovan.
In Chennai North, DMK candidate Kalanidhi Veerasamy got 590,986 votes; his DMDK rival R Mohanraj polled just 129,468. Similarly, in Nagapattinam where Muslims are dominant, Communist Party of India candidate Selvarasu (the party was part of the DMK-led alliance) defeated AIADMK’s M Saravanan by a margin of 211,353 votes. In Thoothukkudi, another key seat, saw DMK leader Kanimozhi Karunanidhi defeat BJP state chief Tamilisai Soundarrajan, by a margin of 347,209 votes. The BJP which contested on four seats, could not even retain the lone seat it represented, Kanniyakumari, with Union minister Pon Radhakrishnan losing to Congress’s H Vasanthakumar by a margin of nearly 260,000 votes.
The AMMK, formed by a faction led by TTV Dhinakaran, hoped to make a mark in this Lok Sabha polls. While it failed to win even a single seat, in some seats, the AMMK candidates also split the votes of the AIADMK candidates, thus helping the DMK alliance candidates. For instance, in Ramanathapuram, Indian Union Muslim League’s Nawas Kani (a DMK?ally) defeated BJP’s Nainar Nagendran by a margin of over 120,000 votes. The AMMK candidate N Anand, relying on the Mukkulathor community’s votes, got more votes than the victory margin, reaping 141,806 votes. In Chidambaram, too, the AMMK polled more votes than the victory margin of the winning candidate. Thol Thirumavalavan of the Dalit party Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi, an ally of the DMK, won the cliff-hanger by a slender margin of 3219 votes.
The AIADMK which went for polls without any alliance in 2014 general elections, under the leadership of Jayalalithaa, had secured 44.3% of votes. However, this time around, its vote share plunged to 18.8%. AMMK secured 5.25% of the total votes polled.
The ruling AIADMK has now appealed to the AMMK cadres to return to the party fold. Dhinakaran dismissed the appeal. “Those who want to return to the AIADMK can go... The AMMK will continue its task of retrieving the party and Amma’s (Jayalalithaa) legacy,” he said.
“We feel it was a sweep against AIADMK alliance. The AIADMK is not seeing that only minorities have rejected us. We have retained our traditional vote bank,” said an AIADMK leader on the condition of anonymity.