The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and its alliance partners Saturday established clear leads in the rural body elections in Tamil Nadu, held after a gap of eight years. In the polls held in 27 districts of the state, the ruling AIADMK and its allies were relegated to the second spot.
As per latest reports, out of the 5,090 panchayat union wards, the opposition parties won 2,316 seats (DMK – 2091, Congress – 131, CPI – 62, CPI(M) – 33) and the ruling alliance managed to secure 2,167 seats (AIADMK- 1762, PMK -224, DMDK – 97, BJP – 84). Other smaller parties secured 796 seats. Of the panchayat union wards, DMK garnered 41.10 per cent of the vote share while the AIADMK secured 34.64 per cent.
Of the 515 district panchayat wards, the opposition parties won 267 seats (DMK – 243, Congress – 15, CPI – 7, CPI(M) -2) while the AIADMK alliance bagged 240 seats (AIADMK – 214, PMK – 16, BJP – 7. DMDK – 3). In district panchayat wards, DMK secured 47.18 per cent of votes while the AIADMK secured 41.55 per cent of votes.
District panchayat wards
DMK and AIADMK won 13 districts apiece in the elections held for the post of district ward panchayat members. In Ariyalur, Karur, Coimbatore, Tiruppur, Thoothukudi, Theni, Namakkal, Cuddalore, Salem, Dharmapuri, Erode, Virudhunagar and Kanniyakumari districts AIADMK-led alliance managed to secure victory.
Similarly, DMK extended its dominance in Tiruvallur, Krishnagiri, Thanjavur, Dindigul, Tiruchirapalli, Thiruvannamalai, Tiruvarur, Nagapattinam, Neelagiri, Perambalur, Pudukottai, Ramanathapuram, and Madurai.
Both parties won equal number of seats in the Sivagangai district. The ward members will elect the district panchayat chairman on January 11. The ruling party’s loss in southern districts which were extensively campaigned by the AIADMK ministers like RB Udhayakumar, Sellur K Raju, Dindigul C Srinivasan, and Kadambur C Raju raised many eyebrows.
In Thanjavur, Tiruchirapalli, Tiruvannamalai, Pudukottai, Nagapattinam and Dindigul districts, the DMK won more than 100 seats. But the AIADMK passed the 100-seat mark only in the Cuddalore district.
In Erode Nammakal, Thoothukudi and Salem the ruling government managed to defeat DMK by a small margin. Apart from the Dravidian parties, TTV Dhinakaran’s AMMK which wasn’t considered a threat sprung a surprise by winning 95 panchayat union seats. In Kayatharu town in Thoothukudi district, out 16 panchayat ward unions they managed to win 13. Similarly in Kannangudi town in Sivagangai district, they won in five panchayat ward unions out of six. Apart from these districts, AMMK seized momentum in Thanjavur, Madurai, Tiruvannamalai, Pudukottai, Theni, and Cuddalore districts. Political analysts believe that these small players could play a significant role in the 2021 assembly elections.
Stalin says DMK’s win a ‘thumping victory’
DMK chief M K Stalin called the election results a thumping victory for DMK despite the partisan attitude of the Election Commission and AIADMK’s money power.
“People’s power can overcome any anarchy and unscrupulous activities. The results have brought to light the people’s faith in DMK and their dissatisfaction over the AIADMK government. The elected local representatives will serve the people better and honest. The local body elections should have been held in 2016, but the ruling party was afraid to meet the people and hence kept postponing it. It’s only after an order from the Supreme Court and High Court, the EC agreed to conduct elections,” Stalin said.
He added that despite irregularities, the party has managed to win the elections. “I assure you that the elected representatives will put an end to humongous corruption happening in the local bodies,” he added.
Regained people’s trust, say EPS-OPS
In a joint statement, Chief Minister Edapaddi K Palanisamy and his deputy O Panneerselvam claimed they have regained the people’s trust with the victory. “I thank the people of Tamil Nadu for making the AIADMK and their alliance candidates win this election by a huge margin. We lost the Parliamentary election due to various reasons, but due to our party cadre’s hard work and various achievements of the government, we have gained the trust of the TN people,” the statement read.
Former AIADMK MP Anwhar Raajhaa said his party failed to attract the minority vote bank because of its stand on the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. Raajhaa’s son and daughter, who had contested the polls for the posts of panchayat union ward members, lost.
“I know that we won’t pocket minority votes, despite that I made my children contest in the elections. Because our party supports CAA, the minority people are seeing us as enemies. That’s the reason why they didn’t vote for us, if our party changes it stands, we will gain the trust of minority voters,” Raajhaa said.
‘Won’t call it a defeat for AIADMK’
Speaking to indianexpress.com, political commentator Raveendran Duraisamy said it is a victory for both DMK and AIADMK. “I won’t call this as a defeat to AIADMK, after their abysmal performance in 2019 Lok Sabha elections, they have come back strongly, Edappadi has proved that he is a fine administrator. He didn’t commit the same mistake; he gave his alliance partners minimal seats and made his party contest in the majority of the areas.
“The vote bank of AIADMK has increased from 18.5 per cent in the Lok Sabha election to 35 per cent now. Similarly, Stalin has once again proved that he is the strongest leader currently in Tamil Nadu. DMK has gained more votes in the rural areas which are considered as AIADMK’s strongholds. At the same time, people’s hatred towards BJP has also helped DMK’s cause. In the Parliament election, it was projected as DMK vs others because people weren’t sure of Edappadi’s administrative skills, and they just wanted to vote against Modi. But now the arithmetics have changed, it is going to be DMK vs AIADMK in the upcoming election,” he said.
DMK moves High Court over the counting process
The rural local body elections for 91,975 posts were held in two phases on December 27 and 30 in 315 centres across the state. Over 2.31 lakh candidates contested for the posts which include district ward panchayat members, panchayat union ward members, village panchayat presidents and village panchayat ward members. According to the Tamil Nadu State Election Commission, the first phase witnessed a voter turnout of 77.10 per cent, while the second phase saw 77.73 per cent votes polled. Totally, 77.46 per cent voter turnout was witnessed in the rural body election.
The counting process began on Thursday at 8 am amidst tight security. According to EC, more than 1 lakh officers were appointed in the counting centres and close to 30,000 police personnel were deployed across the 27 districts. A large number of CCTV cameras were set up in each counting centres.
During counting, DMK leader MK Stalin approached Election Commissioner R Palanisamy alleging irregularities in the process. He claimed AIADMK, with the help of officials, were refusing to declare results, particularly in the constituencies of the CM and deputy CM.
The EC quashed the allegation, saying it was working round the clock to ensure a fair election. However, Stalin approached the EC again at midnight and sought justice. He threatened to sit on a fast at the EC’s office if appropriate action was no taken.
Meanwhile, DMK approached the Madras High Court alleging irregularities and unusual delay in declaring winners. The court adjourned the case after issuing notice to the EC to file an affidavit and submit CCTV footage from counting centres.