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Tamil Nadu polls: DMDK to contest alone

Both AIADMK, DMK claim Vijayakanth’s decision will benefit them. For almost six months, the DMDK kept everyone guessing about the party’s political plans.

Written by Arun Janardhanan | Chennai, Chennai/bengaluru |
Updated: March 18, 2016 10:48:08 am
DMDK, Vijayakanth, Tamil Nadu Assembly polls, Tamil Nadu elections, Tamil Nadu polls, DMK, Karunanidhi, Indian express DMDK leader Vijayakanth

Ending months of suspense, DMDK leader Vijayakanth Thursday announced that his party will contest the forthcoming state Assembly polls alone. While thanking all parties that invited him for talks, Vijayakanth told a gathering of women supporters in Chennai that he never approached other parties for meetings.

For almost six months, the DMDK kept everyone guessing about the party’s political plans. It all started with rumours of DMDK joining the Left-Dalit front, the People’s Welfare Alliance (PWA). Then the BJP claimed a “likely deal” after Union minister Prakash Javadekar’s visit to Chennai.

Later, even DMK Chief M Karunanidhi gave a statement indicating that his party had almost sealed a deal with the DMDK. But the latest development has left political parties worried about DMDK playing spoiler.

“If he had struck a deal with PWA or DMK, it would have been a tough challenge for the AIADMK. But now he is playing spoilsport and making things difficult for everyone, or in fact making it easier for the ruling party to win with a slight margin,” said a senior leader from the PWA, which comprises the CPI, CPM, Vaiko’s MDMK and the VCK, a Dalit party.

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Meanwhile, both DMK and AIADMK tried to argue that the decision will benefit them.

“If at all, we only have a slight lead on the main rival DMK. The DMDK contesting the election alone will help us because it will split anti-AIADMK votes, especially in Kongu belt and the non-Vanniyar votes in northern districts. So we are going to win this election, even if it is going to be by a slight margin,” said a senior AIADMK leader, while admitting that a DMDK-DMK tie-up would have posed a major threat to his party.

The DMK, however, claimed exactly the opposite, giving two reasons. A senior DMK leader argued that the first reason was the fact that AIADMK and DMK’s social base (won through pro-poor positioning) was similar, and Vijayakanth will split AIADMK votes.

“He will eat into Amma’s votes. He will also spoil the chances of Jayalalithaa getting votes from Kongu belt — Dalit-Arundhatiyars and Telugu speaking Naidus, a community he himself belongs to,” he said.

According to him, the second reason was that latest poll surveys showed AIADMK at 41 per cent projected vote share having only a slight lead over DMK’s projected figure of 39 per cent. “In the coming weeks, the ruling party will lose that remaining 2 per cent as there are multiple fronts, including DMK, PWA and DMDK, campaigning against the ruling party. That will benefit us because neither Vijayakanth nor Jayalalithaa can claim our middle class vote base,” he said.

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