Fragmentation of votes expected in multi-cornered contests

The tussle between the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) in a record 35 constituencies has made the current round of Lok Sabha polls a unique one. But the possible emergence of a strong BJP-led third front and several other players going it alone may throw up a serious challenge to the State’s two principal parties.

Across board, there is recognition of an imminent fragmentation of votes in the multi-cornered contests.

As matters stood on Wednesday, the BJP has envisaged an alliance consisting of Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK), Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) and Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK). The Congress and the Left parties are set to go it alone, making it a pentangular fight in the State.

Going by past performance, political commentator Gnani is of the view that almost all of the main contenders have a committed vote share in different pockets. In case of the BJP, the DMDK and the Congress, the votes were spread across Tamil Nadu.

“The fragmentation of votes is set to be substantial this time. There are also new entrants like the Aam Aadmi Party, which have been given good numbers by opinion polls. In that case, victory for the DMK and the AIADMK will not be straightforward. There could be upsets,” he points out.

A perusal of the 2009 data reveals that the BJP and the DMDK, which contested the elections without the support of either of the principal parties, polled in more votes together than the margin between the winner and the runner up in 26 Lok Sabha constituencies.

The DMDK candidates crossed the one-lakh vote mark in eight seats and the BJP achieved this feat in two. Together, they secured over 12.5 per cent of the total votes.

Given that the MDMK and the PMK, allies of the AIADMK in 2009, are about to become constituents of the BJP front, the resultant spilt in votes could be crucial.

However, psephologist Venkatesh Athreya feels that in a multi-cornered fight, the parties with the largest committed vote share have a better chance of victory. Between them, the DMK and the AIADMK share more than one half of voters in the State. “So this election too would be a clash between the two. But, there may be a few constituencies where others may put up a good fight,” he points out.

Social activist R. Thangathurai, who has worked with the AIADMK for over 40 years, feels that the BJP-led front may not do well in the State. “Considering the widely-prevalent perception that the AIADMK and the BJP are friendly to each other, there is every possibility of people, who are otherwise inclined to vote for the BJP, supporting AIADMK candidates in constituencies where the national party is not contesting,” he observes.

More In: Tamil Nadu | National