Tamil Nadu's cliffhanger of an election

May 08, 2006 12:00 am | Updated March 22, 2012 03:35 pm IST

V. Jayanth

Today's polls considered to be a watershed in State politics

No Chief Minister after M.G. Ramachandran has been able to retain powerThe DMK-led Democratic Progressive Alliance stressing need for good Centre-State relationsThe AIADMK seeks fresh mandate to complete the task of modernisation, development

CHENNAI: An estimated 4.63 crore voters in the State go to the polls on Monday to elect 234 members to the Tamil Nadu Assembly. In recent years, the turn-out in elections in the State has been only moderate in the 55 per cent to 60 per cent range.

But the May 8 election to the Legislature is considered to be a watershed in State politics. Chief Minister and All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader Jayalalithaa is trying to break the pattern no Chief Minister after her mentor, M.G. Ramachandran, has been able to retain power. And her challenger and four-time Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi has done his best to return to power and keep the current trend of alternate terms for the two Dravidian rivals going.

The first election in the post-MGR era in the State was in 1989, when the DMK swept the polls. But the Karunanidhi Government was dismissed in 1991 and a fresh election ordered by the Centre under the Chandra Shekhar regime.

Democratic cycle

It was during that campaign that former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated in Sriperumbudur, and a massive AIADMK-Congress wave swept the State, bringing Ms. Jayalalithaa to power. The two parties were then in alliance. The DMK turned the tables in 1996 and was voted out again in 2001. The DMK leadership expects the democratic cycle to continue. The AIADMK wants to break that barrier.

Promises galore

The campaign has been dominated by promises of free television sets, computers, increased rice subsidies, cooperative loan waivers for farmers and so forth. The DMK-led Democratic Progressive Alliance has been harping on the need to have its Government installed in the State to ensure smooth Centre-State relations and more benefits for Tamil Nadu and its people. Chief Minister Jayalalithaa has argued that despite the hurdles put in her way by the DPA and its Ministers in the Union Cabinet, she has managed to take the State forward.

She seeks a fresh mandate to complete her task of modernisation and development in order to make Tamil Nadu the Number One State.

The Hindu -CNN-IBN pre-election survey, conducted in the first week of April, found the contest too close to call. Other polls have come up with variable findings. But it is clear that in a bipolar election, one alliance will win and there is no possibility of a hung Assembly.

Unprecedented security

It is also evident that while the electoral arithmetic appears to favour the DMK-led alliance, Ms. Jayalalithaa's AIADMK, which won over the MDMK and the Dalit Panthers, closed the gap since the Lok Sabha election of May 2004.

Monday's poll is being held under an unprecedented security umbrella involving more than one lakh personnel.

Despite the close contest, each side is expressing confidence that it will win a "clear and unambiguous mandate" from the people.


Political circles are however, speculating on the possibility of the State heading for its first coalition government, unless a late swing not detected by any serious opinion poll decides otherwise.

Who will win Tamil Nadu?

Which of the two fronts will win in the May 8, 2006 Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu? The AIADMK-led front? Or the DMK-led Democratic Progressive Alliance? Will arithmetic or chemistry prevail? Or some unexpected combination of the two?

Will it be a photo finish or a decisive outcome? Will this election be a watershed in the State's political development?

And what will be the scale of the Left Front's victory, predicted by all the polls, in West Bengal?

Find out from The Hindu -CNN-IBN exit poll for Tamil Nadu; and the combined post-poll and exit poll analysis for West Bengal.

CNN-IBN will telecast the findings between 9.30 p.m. and 10.30 p.m. today, Monday; and The Hindu will publish the detailed findings and analysis on May 9 and May 10.

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