- S.S. Mahadevan
A Tamil journalist, who also happens to be a voter in the Vellore Lok Sabha constituency quipped: “We took pity on poor harassed Election Commission and decided to lessen the burden on EC by getting election to our Lok Sabha constituency canceled. See, it is 542 and not 543 this time, the number of seats for which results are keenly awaited by the country!” The EC had canceled the election to Vellore parliamentary constituency after over Rs 11.48 crore worth unaccounted cash was unearthed during an income tax raid on March 31 at the residence of Durai Murugan, MLA and Treasurer of DMK Party, and his son Kathir Anand, who was contesting from Vellore parliamentary constituency. IT sleuths had also conducted searches at Kingston Medical College, which is run by the Durai Murugan Educational Trust. In Tamil Nadu, it was 38 LS seats instead of 39 this time.
When the May 23 results revealed the DMK alliance I.e UPA (DMK, Congress, IUML, CPI, CPI (M), MDMK, VCK and smaller parties) pocketing 37 seats out of the 38, observers began searching for reasons. Is not ‘cash for vote’ a despicable crime, they pondered. Should not Tamil Nadu go with the national mood of “NAMO AGAIN” and vote for NDA (AIADMK, BJP, PMK, DMDK, PT)? Some even compared how, in June 1977, Tamil Nadu voted pro-emergency film star MGR to power in the state, and gave 34 out of 39 Lok Sabha seats to the Indira-MGR clique leaving just 4 to the DMK, when the entire country was rejoicing over the ouster of the dictatorial regime!
Some attribute the anti-Modi venom spread by extremist groups among the gullible people for over 3 years for such a poll outcome. They point to the #GoBackModi and the release of black balloons by left extremist groups when Modi visited Chennai to inaugurate Defence exhibition. Such ‘separatist’ streak in the Tamil voters has to be deliberated upon as this has been a closet affair of a few NGO driven groups.
Consider this. “The DMK, with more Hindu cadre and leaders, is not an anti-Hindu outfit, which firmly believes in secularism and equality. It is not against Hinduism or any particular caste. It was the DMK that renovated and consecrated more temples through Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment Department than the AIADMK. Our objective is nourishing religious tolerance, brotherhood and better understanding among people following different faiths,” said DMK president M.K. Stalin, while addressing an election meeting at Palayamkottai on April 9, 2019 to seek votes for the DMK candidate for Tirunelveli Lok Sabha constituency.
This was in response to anti-DMK upsurge dubbing it as anti Hindu. That was when DMK supporter and DK leader K. Veeramani vilified Lord Krishna earlier. The police had registered a complaint against Veeramani. There have been social media messages recalling Stalin's derisive remarks about Hindu marriage customs while attending a Muslim wedding. During previous elections, AIADMK’s Jayalalithaa used to play Hindu card unabashedly for vote catching, much to the chagrin of Tamil Nadu BJP. Now Stalin seems to have taken the cue from Jaya reaping full benefit. The DMK combine could win 37 out of the 38 Lok Sabha seats that went to polls leaving just 1 to the NDA candidate Ravindranath, son of Dy. Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam. So, it won’t be off the mark to say Hindutva played a crucial role in shaping the outcome of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls in the state.
On another day, a political analyst had this to say: “While anti-Modi sentiments get maximum attention on air waves, a consolidation of Hindu votes in favour of the BJP is also beginning to take place, especially in the Southern districts of Tamil Nadu. There is definitely Hindu consolidation happening very slowly. These Hindu votes will come to the BJP if all anti-Modi votes go to the DMK,” Crafty Stalin has ensured that the Hindu votes too came to DMK by stoutly rejecting “anti Hindu” charges against his party, just 10 days ahead of the polls.
Tamil Nadu BJP, meanwhile, had added ample respectability to a harried AIADMK by augmenting constant Central support to the AIADMK government run by EPS-OPS duo following the demise of Jayalalithaa in December 2016 even as Sasikala’s kin TTV Dinakaran rose in revolt. That support averted a humiliation of total rout for AIADMK in the bypoll for 22 Assembly seats held along with the Lok Sabha elections. In a way, BJP played a key role in saving the day for AIADMK.
Why Bypolls for 22 Assembly Seats?
Along with the Lok Sabha elections, the EC held bye-polls for the 18 assembly seats out of 21 seats that have been lying vacant for some months now. While 18 MLAs were disqualified by the Madras High Court in October last year under the Anti Defection Law for declaring their support to AMMK’s TTV Dhinakaran, MLAs M Karunanidhi (DMK, Thiruvarur), AK Bose(AIADMK, Thirupparankundram) died in office. Hosur MLA and Minister Balakrishna Reddy was disqualified following his three-year imprisonment in a criminal case. As per latest information, the AIADMK was leading in 9 of the 22 Assembly seats. That ensured that the state government faced no danger to its stability.
AIADMK failed to develop the party in the absence of Karunanidhi and Jayalalithaa
- TS Venkatesan
As usual the TN voters have proved they are a different genre when choosing their electoral representatives. When the rest of the nation has rallied behind PM Modi, the TN voters have preferred DMK led alliance. The DMK is known for its anti-Hindu stance and has the tag of corrupt party, yet it was their campaigning that worked wonders for them.
DMK’s village level outreach across the State as early as January with a slogan, “Let us meet people, tell them and win their hearts”, has worked. Stalin had covered over 12,000 village panchanyaths and interacted with people at the ground level. During the campaign, opposition raised the anti-Hindu stand of the DMK. To counter this, Stalin for the first time asserted that his party was not anti-Hindu. This was to ensure that his party cadres, supporters were not antagonized. He also raked up Jayalalitha’s death and violence in Tuticorin that killed 13 people in police firing. During campaigning he proposed Rahul Gandhi’s name for Prime Minister repeatedly. But the poll results were contrary to his wishes.
The AIADMK alliance which included BJP, PMK, DMDK, Puthiya Tamizhagam, Puthiya Needhi Katchi, fought the election. “We have lost the poll not ideologically. But the opposition blew even small mistakes out of proportion. Secondly the media in Tamil Nadu are controlled by DMK and its allies, had spread canards against us particularly they have projected PM Modi as villain for Tamil Nadu. They portrayed us as the most corrupt. The DMK and its allies listed out hydro carbon, sterlite, jallikattu, demonetisation, gas price hike, petrol, diesel prices, NEET and all. Despite implemented several crores worth schemes for Tamil Nadu, the local leaders could not take to the masses at least to the beneficiaries. They had failed to develop the party in the absence of Karunanidhi and Jayalalithaa to make more vibrant.”, said an AIADMK leader.