However, its support base has dwindled and it has to weather factional feud

Though the DMK is facing a litmus test of regaining the lost ground in Puducherry, it believes it can cause a surprise in the Lok Sabha elections.

An analysis of the past elections shows the DMK is a party to reckon with in the Union Territory. The party, which had won just two seats in the third Assembly elections held in 1974, sent 14 members to the fifth Assembly in 1980.

DMK leaders M.O.H. Farooq, M.D.R. Ramachandran and R.V. Janakiraman served as Chief Ministers in 1969, 1980, 1990 and 1996.

Its candidate Arumugam won the Lok Sabha seat when the party contested the 1998 elections on its own.

However, the party, which had seven MLAs in the 11th Assembly, suffered a setback in the 12th Assembly elections held in 2011, winning a mere two of the 13 seats it contested in the company of the Congress.

The DMK’s archrival, AIADMK, which fought the polls in alliance with the AINRC floated by N. Rangasamy, fared better. Severe infighting, flaws in the selection of candidates and the ‘Rangasamy wave’ did the DMK in.

This time, after 16 years, the DMK has entered the fray alone, with the backing of a few minor parties. It candidate A.M.H. Nazeem, the Karaikal MLA, is engaged in an extensive campaign.

“The current elections have opened up a great chance to rebuild the party. Our workers are charged up,” says party organiser M.A.S. Subramaniam.

However, analysts reckon that it may not be easy for the DMK as its support base has dwindled, mainly because of the pattern of its alliance in the successive elections.

The Congress’s traditional base and the emergence of the AINRC may affect the DMK’s chances. They also point to the intense factional feud in the party.

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