DMK-led front capitalised on anti-Modi narrative

‘We were able to sustain the campaign throughout the last few years in T.N.’

Updated - May 23, 2019 11:06 pm IST

Published - May 23, 2019 11:04 pm IST - CHENNAI

Rising sun:  DMK members celebrating the party’s victory at Anna Arivalayam in Chennai.

Rising sun: DMK members celebrating the party’s victory at Anna Arivalayam in Chennai.

If Tamil Nadu stood like a fortress guarding against the BJP’s entry despite the national party forging a rainbow alliance strong in arithmetic, it was because of the DMK-led Secular Progressive Alliance’s success in capitalising on the narrative built by fringe pro-Tamil groups that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was working against the State’s interests.

Statistically too the popular verdict in Tamil Nadu has been overwhelmingly in support of one political formation or the other in 10 out of 11 Lok Sabha polls since 1977.

“The way [DMK president] M.K. Stalin consolidated the unity of the Opposition is a major factor for the resounding success of the DMK-led coalition,” said P. Ramajayam, Assistant Professor at the Bharatidasan University, Tiruchi. The victory has also dispelled doubts expressed in certain sections of society about Mr. Stalin’s leadership abilities.

What is more important is that “we were able to sustain the anti-Modi campaign throughout the last few years and in every nook and corner of the State,” explained DMK organising secretary R.S. Bharathi.

“Our way of campaign was such that people even in rural parts were called upon to cast their votes against Mr. Modi,” he said.

The widely prevalent perception that the Centre did not come to the rescue of the State with regard to NEET is being cited not only by Mr. Bharathi but also by ruling AIADMK leaders. “Even though it was on the basis of the Supreme Court’s order that the NEET had become mandatory, we could not provide a fitting answer to the Opposition’s criticism that Mr. Modi, who could intervene positively in respect of ‘Jallikattu’, did not do anything for NEET,” acknowledged a senior AIADMK leader.

Handlooms Minister O.S. Manian contended that the voters were carried away by the “lucrative and unrealistic” promises of the DMK such as waiver of all types of farm loans and making NEET optional.

Also, the focus of several agitations witnessed by the State in the last two-and-a half-years since the demise of Jayalalithaa was against the Centre and, by extension, the AIADMK government too.

Conscious of these factors, the BJP-AIADMK went on to stitch up an alliance, even considered “formidable” numerically, in the light of strength of constituents such as Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), known for its concentrated base in northern and western belts, and Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK), perceived originally as one that could supplement the front in pockets of northern and southern districts.

But, a closer analysis of the performance of parties revealed that the DMK-led combine was far ahead, polling 52%, about 22 percentage points more, as of 9 p.m.

Naturally, within the Opposition’s coalition, the DMK had the lion’s share with 33.55% followed by the Congress with 12.4%; CPI (Marxist) – 2.6%, CPI – 2.46 and the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi – 1%.

In contrast the AIADMK could poll only 18.46% followed by the PMK – 5.42%; BJP – 3.49% and DMDK – 2.37%.

TTV Dhinakaran’s AMMK failed to be a spoiler for the AIADMK except in a few constituencies such as Ramanathapuram and Virudhunagar.

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