Tamil Nadu

Tamil Nadu Assembly Elections | Challenges for AIADMK in the southern region

The ruling AIADMK, which bagged 32 seats in southern districts in the 2016 Assembly election, is facing three major challenges this time. They are the effect of price increase, the presence of the Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK) in the fray and the controversy over the law to grant 10.5% internal reservation to the Vanniyars,

Interactions with a cross-section of people in parts of Madurai, Theni, Sivaganga, Virudhunagar and Ramanathapuram districts reveal that the three factors will have an adverse impact on the fortunes of the AIADMK-led alliance. At the same time, the alliance is likely to benefit from the grant of the generic name, Devendrakula Velalars, to a group of seven constituents of the Scheduled Castes.

What remains to be seen is whether the AIADMK-led front will have a net gain or loss of votes in view of the interplay of the increase in the prices of petrol, diesel and cooking gas cylinders, the likelihood of the AMMK being a spoiler, the row over the quota for the Vanniyars and the provision of the generic name.

The region, known to be its stronghold since the days of AIADMK founder M.G. Ramachandran, was a source of consolation to the party in the 2019 Lok Sabha election. Theni went to the party, even as the AIADMK-led alliance got a drubbing everywhere.

Of the nine seats won by the party in the by-elections to 22 constituencies two years ago, the region accounted for five, ensuring the continuation of the AIADMK government. In terms of the vote share for the south, the ruling party netted 40.88%, two percentage points more than its State-wide average for the by-elections and one percentage point more than the DMK’s figure for the southern region. In absolute figures, the AIADMK had, on an average, obtained 76,135 votes from the nine southern constituencies.

Not being oblivious to the challenges, a key office-bearer of the ruling party concedes that the party has to break down “huge barriers” to repeat its 2016 performance. In the south, depending upon the constituencies and the hold of the candidates, the AMMK, led by T.T.V. Dhinakaran, may get around 10% of the votes. In some constituencies, the AMMK’s vote share may go up to 20%.

The functionary goes on to say that though there is a perception that his party may not get a large number of votes of the Mukkulathor community, there is another view that many other communities such as Devendrakula Velalars will back the AIADMK in a big way.

His observation does not sound out of sync. A group of persons in the Thoppur village panchayat of the Kariapatti panchayat union in Virudhunagar district, who belongs to the Muthurayar community, says voters in the village, by and large, support the ruling party. Likewise, residents of Pasumpon village in Ramanthapuram district, where Muthuramalinga Thevar’s memorial is located, feel that the Devendrakula Velalars may support the AIADMK. However, there is also a possibility of certain communities voting against it, upset at the provision of the generic name,

S.V.S.P. Manickaraja, AMMK’s election wing secretary and south zone coordinator, denies the contentions that his party relies essentially on the Mukkulathors and its attempt to get the votes of the community will help the AIADMK secure the support of the other communities.

Pointing out that five of the 18 disqualified legislators, who owed allegiance to Mr. Dhinakaran, were of the Scheduled Castes from the south, Mr. Manickaraja, who handles the party’s operations in Kovilpatti where Mr. Dhinakaran is contesting, says the AMMK enjoys the support of all communities, including the Devendrakula Velalars.

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Printable version | Jul 27, 2021 7:54:34 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/tamil-nadu-assembly/challenges-for-aiadmk-in-the-southern-region/article34210174.ece

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