There are murmurs that the party leadership did not try to unite various factions

The central region always remained a stronghold for the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK). However, the crushing defeat suffered by the Dravidian party candidates in all the seven constituencies in the central region at the hands of political novices has left the rank and file of the party shell shocked.

Even while the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) was comfortably placed in the rest of the State, the DMK was hoping to do well in the central region where it has its traditional support base.

In the 2004 Lok Sabha elections, the DMK-led front had bagged in all the seven seats in the central region and in the 2009 elections it emerged victorious in four constituencies ( DMK 3 and VCK 1).

A confident DMK front played it safe by fielding three MPs – T.R. Baalu in Thanjavur, A.K.S. Vijayan in Nagapattinam (reserved) and Thol. Tirumavalavan in Chiddambaram (reserved).

The support enjoyed by the DMK in the central region could be gauged from the fact that it had won the Thanjavur constituency seven times, Perambalur constituency seven times, including three times by former Union Minister A. Raja, Nagapattinam seat last three consecutive times.

The Left had a reasonable support base in the Delta districts and the decision of the AIADMK to severe its ties with both the Communist parties in the eleventh hour, further raised the hopes of the DMK. It expected to do extremely well particularly in Thanjavur, Nagapattinam, Perambalur, and Karur. The crushing defeat in the central region has upset the DMK cadre.

A cross-section of the party workers have blamed the leadership for not trying to find a solution to the simmering differences between the local leaders in various districts even at the time of the elections.

Citing an example they point out that the former minister N. Selvaraj and Rajya Sabha member Tiruchi N. Siva, because of differences with the local leadership, were moved out of the district, much to the discontent of their supporters.

“We never expected the party to be routed in a such a manner, despite vigorous campaigning by party president M. Karunanidhi in his ripe old age of 90 and party treasurer M.K. Stalin.

“The contribution of Mr. Baalu who was behind the widening of the national highways throughout the State and the introduction of various new trains from the central region were expected to reap votes for the party. It will take a long time for the party cadre to recover from the shock of this humiliating defeat,” says R. Balasubramanian, a staunch supporter of the party in Tiruchi city.