Erode (East) bypoll | AIADMK brushes aside by-election defeat, say the party will bounce back in Lok Sabha election 

Updated - March 06, 2023 03:22 pm IST

Published - March 04, 2023 12:58 am IST - CHENNAI

An AIADMK cadre displays his haircut featuring the party’s ‘two leaves’ symbol during the election campaign in Erode (East) Assembly constituency. Representational image. File

An AIADMK cadre displays his haircut featuring the party’s ‘two leaves’ symbol during the election campaign in Erode (East) Assembly constituency. Representational image. File | Photo Credit: GOVARTHAN M

The crushing defeat in Erode (East) is one of the 15 upsets suffered by the AIADMK in the byelections held in the last five and odd years. During this period, interim general secretary Edappadi K. Palaniswami became the key power centre in the party.

Beginning with its candidate and chairman of the presidium E. Madhusudanan losing to Independent T.T.V. Dhinakaran, now the AMMK general secretary, in the R.K. Nagar byelection in December 2017, the principal Opposition party suffered defeat in the April-May, 2019 byelections to 13 constituencies. Erode (East) has become its 15th defeat. And, it follows Mr. Palaniswami assuming virtually full charge of the party in a power tussle that began in June last year.

Asked for comment on the criticism (levelled by former Electricity Minister and veteran politician Panruti S. Ramachandran) that the party had been suffering one debacle after the other, the principal Opposition party’s organisation secretary and former Fisheries Minister, D. Jayakumar, expressed confidence that the AIADMK would bounce back as the DMK did in the past.

“Just because the DMK had languished while being in the Opposition for 10 years in two spells — 1977-87 and 2011-21 — when our party was in power, no one wrote it off. The same holds good for our party. We will score a thumping success in the next year’s Lok Sabha election,” he said.

Headwind

Acknowledging that the party had been facing a headwind since the death of Jayalalithaa in December 2016, R. Subash, a Chennai-based political analyst, says that despite an “aggressive campaign” by the ruling party, the fact that the AIADMK had retained its deposit and secured 25.75% of the votes should not be glossed over. On the contrary, the DMK had forfeited deposit in the 2017 R.K. Nagar byelection. Compared with the performance of the AIADMK in 1996 and 2006, when the party was dislodged from power, it fared better in the 2021 Assembly election because the party, along with its allies, bagged 75 seats, the highest for any of the AIADMK-led coalitions.

However, the analyst feels that the outcomes of the 2021 election and the Erode (East) byelection have underscored the need for Mr. Palaniswami to accommodate every section of the party. He should also try to rope in new allies, Mr. Subash adds.

The AIADMK’s deposed coordinator, O. Panneerselvam, on Friday blamed the party’s defeat in Erode (East) on Mr. Palaniswami.

In a statement, he said that though his side had remained calm during the candidate selection for the sake of victory of the party, the “severe drubbing” was primarily because people did not accept Mr. Palaniswami, who was “the betrayer”.Accusing the interim general secretary of arrogance, the deposed coordinator said the party had suffered the defeat because all those who had worked for the party made “sacrifices” for the party and who were recognised by former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa had been driven out of the organisation.

He pointed out the defeat in Erode East should be regarded as a lesson and the compulsion had arisen for taking along all sections of the party. It was time that gratitude was shown to the party founder M.G. Ramachandran and Jayalalithaa for encouraging the volunteers, who were worried over the successive electoral upsets, to work in a coordinated manner, Mr Panneerselvam added.

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