The decision of Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK) not to contest the Yercaud by-election has thrown up a question: who will benefit from this? The ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam or the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam.

The DMDK had made it a point to take part in by-elections since its inception in September 2005. But its decision to keep off this by-election has come as a surprise to the party leaders. “We did relatively well in the by-elections to Sankarankoil and Pudukottai Assembly constituencies by securing 12,144 votes and 30,500 votes respectively. We were told by the party leadership that we would contest in Yercaud also. But I do not know what made them change their mind,” said a DMDK MLA.

By-elections in Tamil Nadu in recent times have always gone in favour of the ruling party. A senior DMK leader, who is in-charge-of the election work, claimed that the DMDK partymen in the constituency had come forward to support the DMK candidate. In the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, DMDK candidate L. Sudheesh polled about 21,950 votes in the Yercaud segment of the Kallakurichi constituency. “Since the DMDK and the AIADMK are now opposed to each other, the votes of the former will naturally come to us,” the DMK leader contended.

The DMK is also confident of bagging the votes of the PMK, which has a support base in the constituency, given the hostile relationship between the PMK and the ruling party in the wake of the arrest of the PMK leaders, including S. Ramadoss and Kaduvetti J. Guru. In 2009, the PMK, which contested the Lok Sabha elections as part of the AIADMK-led front, obtained about 50,490 votes.

Describing Yercaud as the traditional stronghold of the ruling party, a senior AIADMK leader argues that the factionalism in the Salem unit of the DMK and the “traditional mistrust” between members of the DMK and those of the PMK would work in favour of the ruling party. Besides, the DMDK’s vote base – around 22,000 votes - would not count much in a constituency of about 2.4 lakh voters.

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