The ongoing counting of votes for local body polls in nine districts of Tamil Nadu gives clear majority to ruling DMK while AIADMK appears nowhere even as a close contestant. The outcome so far has also rung alarm bells for smaller outfits like PMK, which take pride in saying “they decide who rules Tamil Nadu”.
It is a well-known fact that when it comes to local body elections in Tamil Nadu, the ruling party claims a majority of seats. Even if the anti-incumbency is high, the ruling parties manage to win a considerable number of seats.
At 11 am on October 13, of the 140 district councillor seats, DMK was leading in 138 and AIADMK was ahead in 2 seats. Of the 1,381 union councillor seats, DMK is leading in 1,003 seats, AIADMK in 211, PMK in 42, AMMK in 5, DMDK in 1 while independents are ahead in 87 seats.
‘No more caste politics, PMK’
Of the nine districts that went to polls, Kanchipuram, Chengalpattu, Vellore, Ranipet, Tirupattur, Villupuram and Kallakurichi are thickly populated with Vanniyars and Dalits, who are mostly Parayars. In Tirunelveli and Tenkasi, Nadars and Dalits, who are mostly Pallars, have a majority.
The PMK, which is claimed to have a strong Vanniyar vote bank, has not done well in this election, according to numbers so far. Interestingly, this election, the PMK severed ties with the AIADMK to contest alone. While the party boasted of getting 10.5 percent reservation for Vanniyars, it was not able to win the community’s vote and trust. So what went wrong with PMK?
“About 50,000 to 60,000 people vote for every district councillor’s post. It’s like electing a half MLA. Whereas for a person to get elected as a union councillor needs at least 5,000 votes. A candidate fighting to win a union councillor’s seat is personally known to voters, who select a representative on the basis of that person’s family background, character and reputation. Voters generally opt for a good candidate beyond caste differences. It appears that the PMK has no good candidate on the ground,” said political analyst and senior journalist Tharasu Shyam.
The PMK cannot play politics just with caste anymore and that is the message from this election, Shyam added.
‘AIADMK needs more unity’
On the other hand, the BJP which often claims it will be a tough competitor for the DMK, replacing the historically major opponent AIADMK, too has not fared well in this election. In a major embarrassment, in Kurudampalayam, in Coimbatore, a BJP candidate got just one vote. The news has gone viral in social media.
“Usually in local body polls, the opposition party gets at least 25 percent seats. But in this election it seems the AIADMK is not even getting 10 percent seats. Whereas in 2019, when the first round of local body polls, the DMK has got about 47 percent of seats and the then ruling party AIADMK got only 43 percent. These results show that the AIADMK needs more unity among its cadre,” said Shyam.
He also added that BJP need to do more work on the ground for a long time, to get a foothold in Tamil Nadu.
S Nandakumar, general secretary, Thannatchi, an organisation working towards creating awareness about Panchayat Raj, said that since the nine districts are in western and southern parts of Tamil Nadu, it is no wonder that the AIADMK has lost.
‘No space for a third party’
The other notable players in this election are Naam Tamilar Katchi and Makkal Needhi Maiam. Both contested the elections without having any alliance but failed to win the confidence of voters. The DMDK and AMMK were nowhere in sight.
Political commentator Pongalur Manikandan said the results so far prove that these smaller parties will never become alternatives to Dravidian majors.
“There is no doubt that Tamil Nadu needs a third party which can replace the Dravidian parties. But the fact is, there is no such party which is capable to withstand them,” Manikandan said.
Meanwhile, candidates belonging to actor Vijay’s Vijay Makkal Iyakkam have performed well. Vijay’s fans contested 169 seats for different posts in all the 9 districts, out of which 52 candidates have won. Does this development mark the entry of yet another film start in Tamil Nadu politics?
“When Vijay himself has not shown any interest in politics, his fans contested this election out of their own volition. The posts they won were of panchayat presidents and ward members. This victory is insignificant. With this success one cannot expect that another star from Tamil film industry will step into politics,” said Nandakumar.