Tamil Nadu

The unusual phenomenon of early electioneering in Tamil Nadu

With AIADMK co-coordinator and Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami kick-starting his campaign for the 2021 Assembly election on Saturday, the State is witnessing an uncommon feature — that of leaders resorting to early launch of poll campaigns.

The ruling party’s arch rival, the DMK, has already employed two of its prominent leaders — Member of Parliament K. Kanimozhi and youth wing leader Udhayanidhi Stalin for the campaign. Party president M.K. Stalin will begin his road show on January 5. In the last week, Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) founder Kamal Haasan covered several southern districts, as part of his campaign.

Several leaders said there were multiple reasons behind it. The pandemic and the consequent restrictions on the mobilisation of people were cited.

“This has naturally created a situation where we require more time, both for covering different parts of the State and highlighting our [the ruling party’s] achievements,” said R.B. Udhayakumar, Revenue Minister and a member of the party’s media committee.

There exists compulsion on the parties for sticking to the conventional method of campaigning as people expect leaders to visit them in their places at the time of election. “So we cannot afford to be unresponsive to the people’s expectations,” the Minister said.

The traditional way

A senior DMK leader said his party not being in power, nearly for 10 years, had made its members take the coming election more seriously than in the past. “Each of us in the party is keen on making it to power this time. This explains my party’s strategy,” he said. Though technology is increasingly being used for political work, the parties are aware that the traditional system of campaigning cannot be dispensed with.

There are additional factors as well — the weakening of the Congress’ vote base over the years has given space for players such as Mr. Haasan and Rajinikanth, who is expected to launch his party in January. “When you find the MNM leader and Naam Tamilar Katchi founder Seeman going around seeking votes, an established party like the DMK cannot remain idle. You need to scale up and intensify your level of campaigning,” the leader said.

He is expecting the campaign to pick up momentum from February.

P. Ramajayam, political analyst, said in the past, the people’s focus on campaigns centred around personalities like M. Karunanidhi and Jayalalithaa, even though other leaders had also taken part. “This time, it is going to be diversified, and for this, you require time,” he added.

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Printable version | Jan 22, 2021 10:04:45 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/the-unusual-phenomenon-of-early-electioneering-in-tamil-nadu/article33375594.ece

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