With no discernable wave, it seems every seat will be fought closely
As electioneering for the 39 Lok Sabha constituencies in Tamil Nadu and the lone seat in the Union Territory of Puducherry drew to a close on Tuesday, no overarching trend across the State is discernable. Neither a ‘Modi wave’ is perceptible, nor is there any big enthusiasm for the Dravidian majors.
Despite claims by the parties, it seems every seat will be fought on its own terms. The deciding factors include local issues, the alliance strength in constituencies, the popularity of candidates and the macro-economic issues such as power cut, caste and religious considerations, besides the mood of the minorities and the Dalits.
Despite the BJP cobbling up a ‘rainbow alliance’ — after prolonged wrangling — with caste-based outfits and smaller regional parties such as the PMK, the DMDK and the MDMK, its impact is likely to vary across the major regions: north, west and south.
This is in contrast to what an alliance with the DMK or the AIADMK would have meant for the BJP in Tamil Nadu. The AIADMK, led by Jayalalithaa, and the DMK, headed by M. Karunanidhi, are seeking a bigger role in the post-poll scenario, with the ruling party making its participation in the next government a key plank.
The Congress and the Left parties — the latter spurned by the AIADMK — contesting alone has led to a five-cornered contest in almost all constituencies. This has made it extremely difficult to predict the outcome, especially how the vote-shares will translate into number of seats. The Aam Aadmi Party may also take a bit of new voters.
While the battle in many constituencies seems a DMK-AIADMK fight, their vigorous campaign against Mr. Modi and his Gujarat model of development, especially in the campaign’s last phase, was to check any erosion in their vote-shares and wean young voters off Mr .Modi.
“Whether it is the Congress or the BJP, they have never expressed even an iota of interest in issues concerning Tamil Nadu. A strong AIADMK presence in the government at the Centre alone can ensure peace, prosperity and development,” Ms. Jayalalithaa declared.
The DMK has also been critical of Mr. Modi and the BJP and accused the PMK and the Vijayakant-led DMDK of aligning with a communal party. The DMK’s star campaigner, M.K. Stalin, rubbished the Gujarat model of development, saying the State took the 11 place in social indicators.
Nonetheless, the presence of the PMK, the DMDK, and the MDMK in the BJP camp has enhanced the visibility of Mr. Modi, posing a challenge to the traditional Dravidian rivals.
For the first time in the State, authorities have issued prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Cr.PC as part of the measures to ensure free and fair polling on April 24.