DMK stops Modi juggernaut from rolling into Tamil Nadu

But with party not cutting through in bypolls, change in govt. is unlikely

May 24, 2019 12:46 am | Updated 07:33 am IST - Chennai

On cloud nine: DMK supporters celebrating outside Anna Arivalayam, the party’s headquarters, in Chennai on Thursday. M. Karunakaran

On cloud nine: DMK supporters celebrating outside Anna Arivalayam, the party’s headquarters, in Chennai on Thursday. M. Karunakaran

The DMK’s well-oiled campaign machinery, led by party president M.K. Stalin, on Thursday succeeded in stopping the Modi juggernaut from rolling into Tamil Nadu by mobilising votes with a focus on core issues such as demonetisation, NEET and the Centre’s alleged neglect of the State on various counts. In the process, the DMK slowed the BJP surge that swept the nation in the Parliamentary election. The party, however, did not taste equal success in the Assembly bypolls, putting paid to its plans of forcing a change in government.

The DMK also helped the Congress win eight of the nine seats it contested in the State, thereby boosting its national tally. Congress candidate H. Vasanthakumar unseated the BJP’s Pon. Radhakrishnan, the lone Union Minister from Tamil Nadu, in the Kanyakumari constituency.

The CPI(M), the CPI and the VCK, which were allotted two seats each, the MDMK, which contested in Erode, the IUML in Ramanathapuram and small outfits that contested on the ‘Rising Sun’ symbol also benefited from the DMK front’s landslide win.

A star campaigner for the party after his father M. Karunanidhi’s demise, Mr. Stalin led the charge against Mr. Modi, even going to the extent of terming him a fascist and a sadist, and ultimately, put up a stellar performance in the Lok Sabha polls.

However, the DMK, which contested all the 22 Assembly seats where bypolls were held, could win/establish leads only in 13 constituencies — inadequate to dislodge the Edappadi K. Palaniswami-led government. Mr. Stalin may now have to prepare himself for a longer battle to don the Chief Minister’s mantle in 2021.

The DMK and its allies have performed extremely well in all regions, including the Kongu belt, which has traditionally favoured the AIADMK. It was this region that helped the AIADMK form the government after the 2016 Assembly election for a second consecutive term.

“With folded hands, we accept the resounding victory given to the DMK alliance by the people of Tamil Nadu. During the next five years, we will work hard to fulfil the promises we made and protect the interest of our State,” Mr. Stalin tweeted.

Accommodating allies

Most of the candidates of the DMK and its alliance parties won or were leading with impressive margins, even though the ruling AIADMK was able to put together a strong alliance of political parties with a tested vote-bank.

Mr. Stalin also adopted a flexible stand when it came to accommodating alliance partners. DMK candidates contested only 20 seats. Four candidates — Parivendhar of the IJK, D. Ravikumar of the VCK, A. Ganesamurthi of the MDMK, and A.K.P. Chinraj of the Kongu Makkal Desiya Katchi — contested on the DMK’s ‘Rising Sun’ symbol.

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