Chennai: The result of the Vellore Lok Sabha constituency surprised many here as the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) candidate emerged victorious against the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) candidate but only with a slender margin. The AIADMK secured 46.51% of the polled votes, while the DMK secured 47.3%. The victory margin was just 8,841 votes, taking the total number of DMK MPs in Lok Sabha to 24. It may be recalled that DMK and its allies won by huge margins in the general election held a couple of months ago.
The DMK, meanwhile, blamed the misuse of official machinery for the smaller victory margin while the AIADMK claimed moral victory for the close fight.
The election campaign saw DMK on full throttle with its alliance partners, while the AIADMK’s alliance partner, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), was barely visible during the campaign.
Heavyweight Candidates Make Fight Tough
The DMK and AIADMK swapped leads since counting began with the AIADMK candidate leading for quite a long period. DMK’s candidate D M Kathir Anand managed to overtake his rival later and managed to win with a total of 4,85,340 votes. Both the candidates are considered heavyweights in the constituency.
According to political observers, AIADMK put up a tough fight, thanks to the personal clout of its candidate, A C Shanmugam, who wields considerable influence among the dominant Mudhaliyar community. His grassroot connection among AIADMK voters also helped him consolidate the vote bank, garnering him 477,199 votes.
The DMK and AIADMK secured leads in three Assembly constituencies each, with the former leading in the constituencies where minority votes are high, including Vanniyambadi, which is held by Nilofer Kafeel, minister of labour in the Tamil Nadu government.
Observers Critical of Durai Murugan’s Approach
The DMK candidate is the son of party treasurer and former minister Durai Murugan, whose is known for his witty comments and dominant presence among party cadres and alliance partners. Political observers believe his style may have done some damage to DMK’s votes.
In a television programme, Vanni Arasu, a prominent leader of Viduthalai Siruthaigal Katchi (VCK) led by Thol Thirumaalavan, a Lok Sabha MP, expressed displeasure at the attitude of the DMK leader during the build up to the election.
It is said that Durai Murugan, an influential leader in the district who is known to be very close to party leader M K Stalin, wanted to rope in the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), a party with considerable following among the Vanniyar community in western Tamil Nadu to the DMK alliance instead of the VCK, during for the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections.
Dynasty Politics Peaking in DMK
The continuing trend of dynasty politics among the DMK ranks has also invited widespread. In the recently concluded general elections, a handful of heir- apparents managed to secure tickets for fighting the elections. Also, recently, Udhayanidhi Stalin, 42, the son of party president Stalin, was appointed as secretary of DMK’s youth wing. Interestingly, Stalin himself held the position from 1983 to 2017, till the age of 64.
Following this, the supporters of AIADMK, BJP and the Naam Tamilar Katchi (NTK) went on an offensive against the DMK’s decision to promote Stalin’s son as the secretary of youth wing.
DMK Needs to Keep Flock Together
On August 7, DMK completed a year without its tallest leader and former Chief Minister M Karunanidhi, whose leadership and oratory skills are missing in many of the present day DMK leaders, including Stalin.
According to political observers, the present situation demands a strong alliance for the DMK to recapture power, as the victory in the Assembly bye-elections and the close fight in Vellore constituency have raised hopes within the AIADMK.
There were voices of ‘fighting alone’ within the DMK after the emphatic victory in the general elections. But the reduction in victory margin in Vellore constituency should lead to a rethink on those who have ambitious plans of facing elections without a formidable alliance. The DMK is also believed to be seriously reviewing the outcome of this result, given the fact that it had conducted an extensive campaign.