interview | thol. thirumavalavan Tamil Nadu

‘Election symbols are not as important as they used to be’

KANCHEEPURAM, 10/09/2011: Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi chief, Thol. Thirumavalavan in Kancheepuram on September 10, 2011.
Photo: B. Jothi Ramalingam

KANCHEEPURAM, 10/09/2011: Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi chief, Thol. Thirumavalavan in Kancheepuram on September 10, 2011. Photo: B. Jothi Ramalingam   | Photo Credit: B_JOTHI RAMALINGAM

Anti-incumbency factor will work in our favour: VCK chief

While the DMK, driven by the desire to win as many seats as possible in the Lok Sabha polls, has requested its alliance partners, particularly the MDMK and the VCK, to contest on its ‘Rising Sun’ symbol, VCK leader Thol. Thirumavalavan argues that symbols are not important in the age of information. Excerpts from an interview:

Have you identified the two Parliamentary constituencies for your party yet?

We were supposed to meet the DMK leaders on Sunday, but I could not attend due to prior engagements. The meeting will take place on Monday. We have asked for one reserved constituency and one general constituency. But I do not know whether the DMK will be in a position to allot a general constituency because of the heavy demand [for such constituencies].

What is your response to the DMK’s request that you contest on its ‘Rising Sun’ symbol?

The DMK wants to win all the 40 Lok Sabha constituencies in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, and there is an opinion that contesting on the ‘Rising Sun’ symbol would make winning easy for the alliance parties that have no dedicated poll symbols. I won the Chidambaram constituency in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls with a victory margin of 1.6 lakh votes when our party contested on the independent ‘Star’ symbol and our candidate lost Villupuram by a narrow margin. As far as the VCK is concerned, we have contested on free symbols in the Assembly elections in 2006, 2011 and 2016 and in the Lok Sabha polls in 2009 and 2014. Symbols are not as important as they used to be in the past. Higher literacy levels have created awareness among the voters and the [wide] reach of the media popularises symbols easily. With regard to the request of the DMK, we have not taken a final decision.

There is a claim that the inclusion of Dalit parties will alienate voters from other communities…

This is an orchestrated campaign. My victory in the Chidambaram reserved constituency would not have been possible without the support of other communities. Even [late] DMK leader Kalaignar (Karunanidhi) rejected outright a campaign in 2001 [which contended] that Dalit votes did not transfer to other parties. He said the DMK alliance won five constituencies in Cuddalore, and it was possible only because of the transfer of Dalit votes enjoyed by the VCK, besides the regular vote bank of the DMK.

The ruling AIADMK has forged an alliance of political parties with dedicated vote banks, while it is said that the DMK front does not enjoy such an advantage…

You seem to have forgotten that the PMK lost all seven Lok Sabha constituencies when it contested with the AIADMK in 2009. In 2011, as part of the DMK front, it was able to win only three seats in the Assembly election. Of course, it polled 5.3% votes in the 2016 Assembly election as it contested alone and polarised the votes of the Vanniyars. Actor Vijayakant’s DMDK polled 2% votes even though it contested in 104 constituencies, and the VCK polled 1% votes despite contesting only in 25 seats. These results prove that there is always a fluctuation in the vote bank of these parties, unlike the DMK and the AIADMK. The image of the PMK and the DMDK has taken a beating after they bargained simultaneously with the DMK and the AIADMK. They reduced alliance talks to mere trade. The anti-incumbency factor against the BJP and the AIADMK will work in our favour.

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Printable version | Apr 7, 2020 4:27:15 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/election-symbols-are-not-as-important-as-they-used-to-be/article26489854.ece

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