Tamil Nadu 2016

In PMK’s fall, collateral damage too

PMK leader Anbumani Ramadoss at a rally in Katpadi. File photo  

Contesting alone, the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) won a vote share of 5.3 per cent in the Assembly elections. The majority of its votes have, as expected, come from the Vanniyar-dominated northern and western regions of Tamil Nadu. But which party did the PMK’s tally adversely affect in the final figures?

The data show the PMK emerged as a spoiler in 64 of the 119 constituencies in the northern and western districts (excluding Chennai), where the votes polled by the party was higher than the margin of victory.

In four seats, the PMK finished second and in 66, took the third spot, almost exclusively in the north and the west. Crucially, as its chief ministerial candidate, Anbumani Ramadoss, said on Friday, this performance means it has pushed the DMDK-led front to a lower spot in 71 constituencies. “We have recovered from whatever effect the DMDK earlier had on our organisation,” he said.

If the larger picture is taken into account, some observers feel the strong performance of the PMK in these districts seems to have become counter-productive to the DMK.

Cushion for AIADMK

While the impact of the December floods that affected northern districts, such as Tiruvallur, Cuddalore and Kancheepuram, helped the DMK take the lead in the northern region, where it won 34 against the AIADMK’s 28 seats, political commentators feel the PMK has indirectly cushioned the blow for the AIADMK.

“On the ground, we see that the base of the AIADMK has more Dalits in the north and it is the Vanniyars who dominate the DMK fold. In a situation where the VCK, the dominant Dalit party of this region, has not performed as well as the PMK, the AIADMK was able to prevent a DMK sweep thanks to the PMK cutting into the Vanniyar votes of the DMK,” said Ravindran Duraisamy, political commentator and a former PMK functionary.

He pointed out that the AIADMK had consciously fielded more Vanniyars this time to divide the community votes further. In all, the ruling party had 41 candidates from the community, the highest share of OBC candidates in its ranks, he said.

In terms of demography, the western districts could be divided into two. It is in the north-western region, such as Krishnagiri, Dharmapuri and Salem, that the presence of the Vanniyar community is concentrated, a reason Dr. Anbumani chose to contest from Pennagaram in Dharmapuri where he finished second.

In Salem, where the Vellala Gounders and Vanniyars form an overwhelming majority among the OBCs, the AIADMK has romped home in 10 of the 11 constituencies. Except in the urban Salem (North) and Salem (South), the PMK polled way more than the margin of victory. In Edappadi, it pushed the DMK to third spot. Overall, the AIADMK decimated the DMK in the western districts, such as Coimbatore, Namakkal and Tiruppur, winning 45 of the 57 constituencies as the Vanniyar votes were split and the Gounders, their traditional vote bank, had solidly backed them.

To illustrate this, in the Gangavalli reserved constituency, the PMK polled 10,715 votes. Here the AIADMK won by a margin of 2,262 votes.

PMK emerged as a spoiler in 64 of 119 seats in the north and the west


Contested: 234 seats

Vote Share: 5.3%

Finished second: 4

Finished third: 66

Northern constituencies:

Total : 62


DMK: 34

Western constituencies:

Total: 57


DMK: 12

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Printable version | Feb 24, 2021 3:26:20 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/tamilnadu2016/in-pmks-fall-collateral-damage-too/article8627144.ece

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