Chennai: In a major setback to the ruling AIADMK, the Opposition alliance led by the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) has is surging ahead, bagging more district and union council seats than the ruling party alliance. Counting of votes, which began on Thursday morning, is yet to be completed.
The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) was hoping for a big win following its surprise victory in the recently concluded bye- elections to two constituencies.
Meanwhile, the DMK has termed the “undue delay” in announcing the poll results as a tactical move of the ruling AIADMK to hide its failures. DMK leader M K Stalin met the state election commissioner twice on Thursday to register his party's discontent over the alleged delay. The party had also filed a case in the Madras High Court regarding the alleged delay in announcement of results.
In Karur and Dharmapuri districts, the DMK and Congress leaders protested against the delay and accused the officials of overturning the announcements in favour of the ruling AIADMK. Several disruptions in the counting process, leading to scuffles among party cadres and officials, were also reported from various areas.
In a change of fortunes compared with the results of local body elections held in 2011, the DMK alliance has won more seats than AIADMK. In 2011, AIADMK had managed an emphatic victory by winning over 60% of the seats, while DMK was restricted to a paltry 15% of the seats.
This is the first time a ruling party has suffered such a setback in the rural local body elections. The AIADMK, however managed to salvage some of its image, by winning a higher number of seats in its stronghold.
Out of the 27 panchayat districts that went to polls, the DMK alliance has won 14 district councils while the AIADMK won a majority in 13 district councils. The DMK and allies won 269 district ward councils, with AIADMK wresting 234 wards.
In a statement, the DMK claimed the victory as a “great success” in spite of the AIADMK “using the administrative machinery in its favour.”
In the panchayat union council wards also, the DMK managed a lead over the AIADMK. The DMK and allies won 2,372 wards with AIADMK winning 2,129 wards. The breakaway AIADMK faction, Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK), led by TTV Dhinakaran, won around 100 union council seats. The radical Tamil nationalist party, Naam Tamilar Katchi, couldn't make any impact in these elections.
On the other side, the AIADMK swept the district and union council elections in the home districts of the chief minister and the deputy chief minister. The ruling party also won the Thoothukudi district council, where 13 people were killed in anti-Sterlite protests.
In spite of advocating empowerment of local bodies, the Makkal Needhi Maiam, led by actor Kamal Haasan, decided against contesting the elections. Actor Rajinikanth, too, has announced his intentions of contesting only in the 2021 Assembly elections, which remains doubtful, given the actor's track record.
These local body elections also sprang a few surprises. For instance, 82- year-old Visalakshi will now head the Mettupalayam panchayat in Coimbatore, while 79-year-old Veerammal will head the Arittapatti panchayat in Madurai district.
Young women, too, made an impact with 22-year-old Subitha tasting victory in Poosalangudi panchayat, Rohini, 21, is all set to head the Selur panchayat in Namakkal district, while another 21-year-old under-graduate student, Jaisandhya Rani, will head the KN Thotti panchayat in Krishnagiri district. A sanitary worker, Saraswathi, of Kansapuram panchayat in Virudhunagar district resigned her job to contest the election and emerged victorious.
Riya, a transgender contesting on behalf of DMK, won the Thiruchengode union council election.
In Pichivilai panchayat of Thoothukudi district, only 13 votes were polled since the election was boycotted by the majority of the population since it was reserved for the dalit community. The candidate, Rajalakshmi, won the president’s post by securing just 10 votes.
With the ruling AIADMK suffering a setback in the rural local body elections, there is now a question mark on the announcement for elections to urban local bodies. The DMK has already claimed a moral victory, terming it as a prelude to the Assembly elections scheduled in mid-2021.