Constituency Watch | AIADMK and PMK give DMK a tough fight in Salem

Facing elections for the first time as AIADMK general secretary, winning Salem is crucial for Edappadi K. Palaniswami in order to prevent backlash from party rebels

April 06, 2024 09:11 pm | Updated April 07, 2024 12:21 am IST - Salem

Salem is poised for a three-way electoral showdown as the parliamentary elections loom closer. The DMK, the ruling party in the State, is making a concerted effort to win the constituency, also the home district of AIADMK general secretary Edappadi K. Palaniswami.

Winning Salem is crucial for Mr. Palaniswami, facing elections for the first time as the general secretary of the party, to prevent any backlash from party rebels O. Panneerselvam and T.T.V. Dhinakaran. However, the PMK is putting up a strong fight and slowly chipping away at AIADMK’s hopes of winning. Additionally, the NTK is gaining popularity among young voters.

Salem has a majority of Vanniyar caste people (40%), followed by scheduled castes, Vellala Gounders, and other castes. In Salem Corporation, which covers Salem South and Salem North constituencies, there are high numbers of people belonging to Devangars, Mudaliars, and Pillai castes. Keeping this in mind, DMK, AIADMK, and PMK have fielded candidates who belong to the Vanniyar community.

Of the six assembly constituencies that come under the Salem Parliamentary constituency, Salem South has always been an AIADMK fort. Even in 2006, when the DMK formed the state government, Ravichandran of the AIADMK won the Salem South (formerly Salem I) constituency. On the other hand, Salem North is considered to be a DMK stronghold due to the presence of more government employees and minorities. The rural areas of Omalur, Edappadi, Veerapandi, and Salem West assembly constituencies have a strong vote base for the PMK, as well as the DMK and AIADMK.

The DMK has nominated former Minister T.M. Selvaganapathy, who is renowned for his election work during his stint in both AIADMK and DMK. Mr. Selvaganapathy had previously contested in Salem in 1999 as an AIADMK candidate and emerged victorious. Due to his popularity among the people in the district and his exceptional oratory skills in both Tamil and English, he holds an advantage. During his campaign, Mr. Selvaganapathy criticized AIADMK and its general secretary, while carefully avoiding speaking against PMK and clearly focusing on the battle between DMK and AIADMK.

Issues like the long-delayed underground drainage works in the Corporation, the slow progress of the 100-lake scheme, and the influence of the PMK vote bank pose challenges for the DMK candidate. Party members, however, are confident that the strong manifestos of the DMK and Congress, as well as a split in opposition votes, will give them the edge they need.

The AIADMK has fielded P. Vignesh, a young candidate who lacks widespread popularity even among AIADMK cadres. During his campaign, Mr. Vignesh struggled to effectively communicate campaign issues. However, AIADMK officials are confident that the development projects implemented during their regime in Salem, the law and order issues under the DMK regime, and the campaign efforts of Mr. Palaniswami will ensure their victory.

In the 2016 elections, the PMK, contesting alone, received 1.66 lakh votes across six assembly constituencies. In Edappadi constituency, which has a strong support base for PMK, N. Annadurai secured second place with 56,681 votes, pushing DMK to the third position. For the current elections, Mr. Annadurai will again contest for PMK.

The PMK believes the BJP helps them attract votes in urban pockets due to the support it gained during BJP state president K. Annamalai’s En Mann En Makkal Yatra.

The NTK, whose vote share went up from 33,590 votes in the 2019 general elections to 54,847 votes in the 2021 Assembly elections, has filed G. Manoj Kumar as its candidate and believes it will secure more votes in this election, especially from first-time voters.

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