People of the backward Ramanathapuram constituency, who had been consistently returning candidates belonging to the Mukkulathor community since 1971, have elected a Muslim in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
M. Sheriff, a Muslim candidate, won the seat in 1967 with the backing of the DMK, polling 1,80,392 votes.
This time, the AIADMK candidate and former Minister, A. Anwhar Raajha, has emerged triumphant with a record 4,05,945 votes, garnering 40.55 per cent of the votes polled in a five-cornered contest.
As the sprawling constituency is dominated by people from the Mukkulathor (Kallar, Maravar and Agamudaiyar), parties field candidates from this dominant community to get votes polarised on caste lines
. Breaking with this ‘tradition,’ the AIADMK fielded Mr. Raajhaa. This prompted its archrival DMK to field S. Jaleel Mohamed. The national parties — the Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Communist Party of India, fielded candidates from the Mukkulathor community.
The AIADMK has been holding sway over the Mukkulathor votes, accounting for close to 25 per cent. But this time, the ruling party faced the risk of losing its vote share as it had imposed strict restrictions during the Thevar Jayanthi celebrations in recent years, to chagrin of the Thevars.
In a bid to assuage them, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa presented a 13-kg gold ‘kavasam’ for the statue of Muthuramalinga Thevar, ahead of the Lok Sabha polls. However, political analysts reckoned that the community viewed the donation as an attempt to woo them.
Demolishing all theories, Mr. Rajhaa has emerged triumphant, securing the highest number of votes by any AIADMK candidate who contested from this constituency since 1977.
The Mukkulathor community has fully backed the AIADMK candidate as Mr. Raajha polled the maximum of 80,848 votes in the Mudukulathur Assembly segment.
The outcome also disproved an analysis that Congress candidate Su. Thirunnavukkarasar, a prominent leader from the Mukkulathor community, would cut into the AIADMK vote share. But he had to content with 62,160 votes, thanks to 26,774 votes polled in the Aranthangi Assembly segment, his home turf. In the rest of the five segments, he secured an average of 7,000 votes.