Tamil Nadu Assembly polls | Leadership play a key role

The CM candidate was more important consideration for voters during 2016 assembly elections

Updated - May 05, 2021 12:47 pm IST

Published - May 05, 2021 12:49 am IST

To what extent did leadership play a role in the recent Tamil Nadu election? Tamil Nadu is one of the states where politics has traditionally revolved around the state leaders. Along with party or candidates, people considered the CM candidates while voting in the elections. In the Lokniti-CSDS post-poll survey, when voters were asked about their consideration while voting, two of every ten of the respondents said they voted for the CM candidate of the party. More than half (53%) voted on the basis of the party and two of every ten (18%) voted on the basis of the candidates. However, the CM candidate was more important consideration for voters during 2016 assembly elections — One thirds (34%) of the voters voted keeping the CM candidate in mind while another one thirds (35%) voted on the basis of the party.In that election,two strong leaders Jayalalitha and Karunanidhi were representing their party/alliances, AIADMK and DMK respectively and voters voted for their preferable CM candidate in 2016 election.


Stalin emerges as undisputed DMK leader

Eight of every ten (78%) of the Tamil Nadu voters named MK Stalin when they were asked about the true heir to M Karunanidhi’s political legacy. On the other side, when asked about the true pollical heir to Jayalalitha’s legacy, close to half (47%) named the incumbent Chief Minister Palaniswami. However, close to one-fourth (24%) of the voters said there is no one who can be the true heir to Jayalalitha’s political legacy (Table 1).MK Stalin emerged as the most preferred to be Chief Minister the state when voters were asked to name a person who should be the next CM of Tamil Nadu in open-ended question format. A little over one-third (36%) of the voters wanted to see Stalin as the next CM of the state. A little over one fourth (26%) named the incumbent Chief Minister Palaniswami. Close to one in every ten (9%) of the voters preferred other AIADMK+leaders such as AnbumaniRamadoss, L. Murugan and O. Panneerselvam (Table 2). Though the preference for leaders may have prompted voters to vote for their respective alliances, it is noticed thatamong the supporters of AnbumaniRamadoss, the leader of PattaliMakkalKatchi (PMK) which was part of the AIADMKM alliance, four-fifths voted for the DMK alliance.


Opinion on VK Sasikala’s last minute decision of withdrawing from politics

People were asked about their opinion on VK Sasikala’s last minute decision of withdrawing from politics. She was once a close aide to Jayalalitha and prospective political heir of Jayalalitha’s legacy.However, after the demise of Jayalalitha, she along with her nephew Dhinakaran formed a new party, Amma MakkalMunnettraKazagam (AMMK) in 2018. Her announcement of withdrawal from politics was a sigh of relief for the AIADMK as it had the potential of splitting the party vote. Overall, voters also supported her decision as four of every ten (38%) fully endorsed it and an additional one fourth (23%) called it a somewhat right decision. Among the voters of various parties, the opinionsclearly vary. DMK+ and AIADMK+ voters called it the right decision, whereas among AMMK voters, close to four of every ten said that she did it under pressure or called it a totally wrong decision(Table 3).

It becomes clear that while the leadership factor was not central to the electoral result, its importance cannot be lost sight of. The fact that among the DMK supporters Stalin was clearly seen as the inheritor of the Karunanidhi legacy needs to be underscored. On the other hand, Palaniswami did receive only lukewarm support among AIADMK supporters as the heir to the Jayalalitha legacy needs to be stressed. This factor could well play out in the coming days in the internal dynamics of both the DMK and its principal rival.


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