As Tamil Nadu gears up for election results on May 2, most of the exit polls gave a thumbs up to the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagham (DMK) which is likely to sweep the state with 160-195 seats. The ruling AIADMK was reduced to 40-70 seats. The majority mark in the 234 member Assembly is 118.
In the neighbouring Puducherry,a the exit polls indicate National Democratic Alliance (NDA) led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to lead. Most polls give a majority for the NDA in the union territory.
Tamil Nadu and Puducherry voted in a single phase on April 6.
The Republic-CNX survey gave DMK and its alliance 160-12 seats while it gave 58-70 seats for the AIADMK-BJP alliance. Times Now-C Voters came close by giving 160-172 seats for the DMK and 58-68 for the AIADMK alliance. Meanwhile, the India Today-Axis survey indicated DMK to win 175-195 seats and about 38-54 for the incumbent AIADMK. Yet another pollster, Today’s Chanakya said DMK will get about 164-186 while giving the AIADMK and its alliance 46-68 seats.
While Kamal Haasan’s Makkal Needhi Mayyam may mark a maximum of two seats as both Republic-CNX and India Today-Axis polls gave 0-2 seats for the party.
In Puducherry, the Republic-CNX believes NDA to get around 16-20 seats and Congress-led Secular Democratic Alliance (SDA) 11-13 seats. Meanwhile, the ABP-C Voter exit poll gave NDA 19-23 seats and 6-10 seats to SDA, and 1-2 seats to others.
The results are a clear indication of the anti-incumbency factor against the ruling AIADMK that fought elections in the absence of late Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa.
The results which will come in the midst of the raging pandemic that’s causing devastation across the country will put the winning party to place importance on the COVID management.
Reacting to the exit poll numbers, DMK’s Manuraj Shanmugam told The Federal, the party will form the government, and a sweep indicates outright rejection of the BJP and AIADMK, which he says completely mismanaged the COVID-19 crisis.
“Our expectation was to grab about 200 of the 234 seats. It’s backed by the fact that we did well in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and we believed that people of Tamil Nadu will repose faith in DMK,” Manuraj Shanmugam said.
If the party wins as predicted by the pollsters, late Chief Minister M Karunanidhi’s son M.K. Stalin will lead the state.
“The priority of the DMK will be to put COVID-19 management plans into action soon after coming to power. Our focus will be on addressing the vaccine availability and procurement and access to healthcare, addressing the economic distress caused by the ramification of lockdowns, and reviving the state finances,” Shanmugam added.
He further added the government will go ahead with the universal basic income plan as mentioned in the manifesto and address the economic distress in a systematic and holistic manner.
Meanwhile, with numbers indicating a bleak picture for the AIADMK and its alliance, they were dismissive of the exit poll numbers.
AIADMK’s Babu Murugavel declined to comment saying it would not be right for him to comment on the exit polls numbers and they would rather make a statement on May 2 when the actual results are announced. Meanwhile, its ally BJP, cast aspersion on the exit polls numbers.
“Almost every single exit polls in 2011 and 2016 did not expect AIADMK to win but they did. So the numbers are something that is not believable,” BJP’s SG Surya said. “Besides, when the women voters were in large numbers, it favored the AIADMK in the past.”
Surya opined that the results do not indicate the mood of the last six months to the election, where he believes AIADMK and BJP policies helped people manage the COVID-19 pandemic better.
While Surya is partially right as barring one exit poll prediction, pollsters failed to see an AIADMK win in Tamil Nadu in 2016, he ignored the anti-incumbency factor and mood that resonated on the ground in the current elections with severe economic distress.
Whether these numbers are a true indication of what’s come, one has to wait for results on May 2.